I was always late. No matter how hard I tried, I was always running somewhere, apologizing on my way in, breathless and red-faced.
Running for the bus almost every day high school made sense. I DIDN'T WANT TO GO. But I was also late for things I liked. Parties. Movies. You name it, I was late for it. I was even late for things I desperately NEEDED to be on time for. I loved my job at the Michigan State University Library. Adored it. But after four years of the public stamping their feet to stay warm in the cold while I rushed to unlock the doors every time I had the early shift...
...they fired me.
What a hard meeting that was. They were sad. I was sad. They loved me working there. They know I loved it. They gave me SO MANY CHANCES but I just could not do it. I couldn't get there on time. My self-esteem was crushed.
What was wrong with me?
This year I found out.
It was Myers-Briggs that changed my life. This personalty typing system explained something to me about me that I had never realized before.
I learned: If you are late all of the time you might be a "P" in the Myers-Briggs Personalty Typing System. (I am. Total ENFP here.) "Perceivers" are people who like things to be open-ended. They like possibility. They may go on a vacation without an itinerary or pack at the last minute because they don't want to limit their options by deciding things ahead of time. But that's not why they are late.
Perceivers are late because they think they can fit in "one more thing" before they go, and that thing takes more time than they have to spare.
It's not that they don't care about you or the event.
It's not that they aren't trying.
It's an issue of calculating project-time.
It's also an issue of being deadline-inspired.
So it's 15 minutes until I have to go somewhere and, deadline looming, I'm suddenly inspired into taking an action: I know! I'll do the dishes. Or clean out that bookshelf. Or sort the recycling that's piled up. Or write back that friend. But that task ends up taking 25 minutes and now I'm 10 minutes late.
Maybe it's because we live in the land of future, abstract possibilities but Perceivers are notorious for miscalculating time estimates. I should have known this. I was a project manager an an internet company for years. I had a list of names and the percentage of time each person was usually off in their coding estimates. Did you know that people are usually off in the time estimates in a predictable manner? Elle takes 10% more time than she says. Nathan takes 30% more time. Every time.
That is what I was doing with my own teeny tiny life projects leading up to going out the door. Every time.
So what is the solution? DON'T DO ANYTHING.
It's 20 minutes until I have to get in the car? Stop. No more projects. No last-minute things. Not even that small one. Don't even think about moving that mail, sorting that sticky note, or opening that notebook. Either get in the car and be early or sit and wait by the clock without moving. Just don't entertain any of those ideas clamoring for attention.
It worked. Immediate success. I got to a meeting on time and the host and I had a nice chat before the others showed up. This gave me a chance to calm down and identify the foreign feelings of pride, awe, and self-esteem building in my gut. I DID IT. I had actually shown up on time with the easy grace I had envied in others MY WHOLE LIFE.
I had finally arrived.
Months later, I still am. And on time too.
Once again taking an improv principle, having a blast with it in class, and then realizing I can take it out into the world with me and make my life better. BAM!
When you are on stage it is nice to include the audience in what you are doing. Opening the refrigerator? If you put the imaginary fridge on the back wall the audience is now watching your back. Turn around and put the fridge on the invisible front wall and now the audience can see your face when you open up the door and realize someone ate the last piece of cake.
::commence improv scene::
Now what if you have a large audience and the front row stretches out all along the stage? How do you make sure you keep the people on the end involved?
Include them with your feet.
If you angle out your foot to point towards the person waaaay over there, now your body is “cheated open” and they can see what’s going on. Totally great tool. Awesome for improv.
But then it gets even better.
A few days later I just happen to stumble on an article about body language and it takes this same idea out of the theater and into board rooms, parties, and luaus everywhere.
If you want know if someone is engaged in a conversation, look at their feet.
Are their feet pointed towards the person speaking or angled towards the door? That’s right. Are they preparing an escape?
It occurred to me that my feet could change a lot of things in my daily life. I’m a busy mom who homeschools three kids of vastly different ages. I’m often juggling multiple things. But what if, when someone interrupted me with a question or a “look, Mom!”, I took an extra moment to move my feet and not just my eyes?
It’s pretty amazing what happens.
Not only do people feel it when you give them your full attention, but somehow what they are saying or doing gets a whole lot more interesting too.
You see what I did there?
In this fantastic interview, Oscar-nominated screenwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio (Shrek, Aladdin, The Pirates of the Caribbean…) share how they work with ideas and it’s brilliant.
Elliott: A lot of the way Terry and I work… is what we call “egoless arguing.” If Terry has an idea, he says, “Here’s the idea,” and from that point on, there’s no ownership of the idea. I’ll make arguments for or against it, Terry will make arguments for or against. The idea has to prove itself as being correct.
Rossio: We put the ideas into an arena and let them battle, and in the end the stronger idea will win out.
I have known for some time that the word “my” can cause an avalanche of problems in the creative process. (Instead of “can you proofread my draft?” try “can you proofread this draft of this idea?” and see if the removal of any self-reference allows you to take constructive feedback more gracefully. It’s amazing how much the ego wants to protect the status quo inside that subconscious maze.)
Now take it one step further.
This wasn’t “my” idea, it’s just an idea that is now here. Where did it come from? Who knows? Can it hold up? Let’s see.
::grabs popcorn to watch::
Ooooh, how this can really up the ante for creative collaboration whether it’s a piece of writing, a business idea, or the most monumental project of all: planning a family vacation.
This week I found out that house sorting was back up on the PotterMore site. Listen closely. Do you hear that cheer? Harry Potter fans all over the world are clinking their Butterbeer.
Have you been sorted yet?
The sorting - done by a series of questions - is eerily accurate. So imagine my surprise when two people I love were sorted into Slytherin. SLYTHERIN. That’s right. The house of Lord Voldemort. Malfoy. Bellatrix. So naturally I found myself second guessing them as any sane person would do.
Are they really trustworthy?
Maybe they aren’t the people I thought they were.
Should I watch my back!?
But because I'm a Ravenclaw (right?!) I decided to do some research before I kicked them to the curb. After all, we had years of friendship under our belts. They deserved that at least!
Do you know what? Turns out House Slytherin is not all bad.
Let me explain:
Top 5 Reasons Slytherin Is Great
Now, you could say that people who like to flirt with the Dark Side like Slytherin, but then you could also say that braggarts like Gryffindor, stuck-up academics who back-stab for the highest marks like Ravenclaw, and the rest of the dregs like Hufflepuff. Boo hiss.
Which leads me to the greatest thing I realized in rethinking Slytherin:
Lumping people into groups can be dangerous for your heart.
As soon as you label a group you stop being mindful in the moment to an individual, a situation, or your intuition.
For example, if you met a Slytherin in the corridor near Sir Cadogan and they were scowling you might have the urge to step aside and let them pass with a wary eye. Unless they are your friend, in which case you would give them a big hug or a high-5 or a the latest teen wizard handshake and ask them s'up?
If you met a Gryffindor in the Great Hall and there were in a bad mood (angry their Quidditch team lost, perhaps?) you might give them a wary eye and a wide berth, unless they were your friend, in which case you give them a Gryffindor lion hello howl (I'm guessing).
The point is, as soon as you lump people into a group and label that group “bad” you may be stepping out of love. As soon as you lump people into a group and label that group “good” (and you keep going with that assumption no matter what is presented to you) you may be stepping out of your intuition.
I knew this, but I forgot.
Those people I love who are in Slytherin...they actually do fit into the "edgiest group in Hogwarts". They do garner respect with a hint of fear. They do have that hard-to-define thing called “greatness” about them. And they are people I have known for years whom I trust and adore.
While it's true you don't see any nice Slytherins in the books (maybe Professor Slughorn?) that doesn't mean they don't exist. I am almost embarrassed to admit I had never thought of that before. But not as much as I am excited to realize I'm a Slytherin fan!
It feels so good to love everybody!
It's been 10 years since I had my first child and OMGosh they have invented such amazing stuff since then!
Some of my friends are having babies. They asked me what I like for my latest baby (born in 2013). Here is my list:
Amazing things. They are the right size with armrests to nurse or feed a baby, and they rock so smoothly without squishing little toes.
Even if you bottle feed the nursing stool is awesome for propping your legs a bit while you hold a baby for a long time in a gilder rocker. I didn't have one for my first two kids and now that I do have one I have said "What was I thinking?! They are so worth it!"
Newborns are tiny things, squishy and all curled up. Their heads flop around. How are you going to wear them? I adore my Moby Wrap until the baby is at least 5 months old. Do not get a color just to match your baby's gender. Get a color you would wear if it were a shirt. Once you put this thing on you will wear it all day like a shirt. If you are having a hard time putting it on take my advice: let the ends drag on the ground. They won't touch the baby anyway once it's on you. Also, be VERY CAREFUL with slings. You have to make sure the baby's head is not chin-to-chest or they can't breathe. This hard to do with a newborn in a sling and I DO NOT recommend slings for newborns. Keep your baby's head high enough that you can kiss it. The Moby Wrap does this.
Ergobaby Carrier or something like it
Once the baby is big enough I use an ErgoBaby Carrier or some carrier where they baby's hips are positioned wide and above their knees (NOT a Bjorn). A carrier that rests on my hips as well is awesome.
Baby Scratch Mittens
Yes, it's important for the baby to be able to suck on their hands. Yes, you should keep their nails trimmed anyway. But even this third-time mom has a bear of a time keeping her newborn from scratching her nipple while she's trying to learn how to latch again. Get the mittens for you until you get the hang of it.
Emery Boards Before Nail Clippers
Newborn nails grow fast but they are also soft. Their fingers are too small for nail clippers, even the safety ones. A cut finger is too easy and can get infected so just use your mouth to chew the nail or use an emery board while they are sleeping or feeding to soften and file them down. Easy peasy. Nail clippers are for later.
Aden + Anais Blankets
I have baby blankets a friend used with her son who is now 16. They are bigger than those useless receiving blankets you get in a pack at Target and I saved them because they were the only thing I could swaddle my baby in. This time around a friend gave me some Aden + Anais blankets and I am hooked! I bought more. They are THE BEST. Get the 47 x 47 inch ones (make sure of this size because they brand different blankets for different stores) and opt for cotton NOT the bamboo which are not really bamboo but rayon which is chemical made. Plus the cotton ones have a better grip and babies are squirmy. Yes they cost money. Buy them anyway.
I never had a swing until this last baby. Either we were broke or we had no room for one or both and I just didn't bother with it. My Sister-In-Law dropped off hers last year so I could use it and now I wonder what the heck I did without it. See TroublesomeTots.com for info on how the swing can be your new bestie. It's a terrible name because the website is sweet and the woman is caring and I wish I had read it ten years ago. I don't think it really matters what swing you get but I have heard rumors there is at least one that comes with a plug as well as battery options. I would get one with a plug if I had to buy one.
I love picking out strollers. Personally, I'm a Graco gal. This time around I could have spent $1,000 on one and I still went with the Graco click connect system. My favorite test is to push it around the store one-handed. If I can't one-hand a stroller it's out.
Try to park in a tight parking lot, open the back door of a SUV or sedan and get your baby or infant carseat out. Sliding doors ROCK.
My midwife suggested we blow dry the baby's butt to keep down diaper rash. This is yet another something I wish I had known with the first kids. Get one with a "cold shot" button so you don't burn a bum.
One more thing I thought was silly or just excess that I didn't bother with until this time around when someone handed me down one. OMgosh these things are the best. Baby doesn't howl now in the night because, um, wouldn't you if you were half-asleep and someone took an ice-cold something to your bottom? Shocking.
Even if you get a My Brest Friend, get a boppy. I didn't have one for my first two kids, this time I splurged and yet again I wonder what I did without it.
My Brest Friend
If you nurse, a My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow. Especially if you are a first-time mom. Get a Boppy as well, but definitely get thisl. I think for new nursing moms it's critical. For bottle babies it's unnecessary.
Smartphone or iPod with Wifi
You will spend a lot of hours rocking, feeding, nursing, holding, being with a newborn. It's nice to not go crazy lonely as well. With Facebook and texting and email you can still be connected to other adults even if you can't talk on the phone. These things did not exist with my first two kids like they do now and I attribute having an iPhone as a HUGE factor in my current happiness. I'm not alone! Yay! Plus, they have really awesome apps like feed timers and sleep timers and baby apps. And you can use it as a flashlight at night. And download white noise onto it to play. The list is endless. Of course you can use a tablet or iPad , but you can't hold an iPad in one hand while you carry a baby, not even the mini.
Along those lines, trips to the bookstore are not so easy now. Find a way to download and read books. Since my eyes strain reading books on a computer or tablet I have a Kindle with no backlight. It's as great as reading a book and I can download new books from my glider rocker.
White noise is your friend. Use it.
Black Out Curtains
One more thing I didn't bother with until this baby and WHAT WAS I THINKING?!?!!
Even in my small house it's nice to have another place to put down the baby so I can pull something out of the oven. You can get a traditional bassinet or you can get a playpen with a bassinet feature.
Changing Diaper Situation
Whether it's a changing table or a bassinet or a dedicated top of a desk with a changing pad on it like I'm using, a dedicated diaper changing place that doesn't require you to bend over too much is awesome. You will be changing a lot of diapers.
Organic Crib Mattress
Get an organic mattress with no off-gassing otherwise your baby is breathing in the chemicals they put in mattresses all night long.
Amazon Prime Membership
Delivery is your friend. Use it.
You will have a much nicer year if you have a cleaning service that comes every two weeks. Trust me. Imagine never having to clean that tub or scrub those floors again! :)
I had one with all of my kids. They hit about 6 weeks old and I'm like, "Where do I put them? They don't want to lie down and they can't sit up!" My son adores his bouncy chair. He laughs and coos and plays with his monkey friends on it for at least ten minutes. "Ten minutes?" you exclaim. "Is it worth it?" Oh heck yes. But only if you want to eat your dinner.
If they take one or not it's really up to them. Every kid is different. But that night when they want to get some gas out and they can't eat anymore and they want to suck to relieve their anxiety and either your body or your pinkie finger are worn out you will be glad you have one. Make sure you boil it for 5 minutes before you use it for the first time and of course, let it cool off and squeeze it before you give it to the little one since a really hot bubble could be hiding inside it just waiting to get sucked into a mouth. Ouch.
Boudreaux's Butt Paste
I use the natural version. It's the best diaper cream I've used in all my ten years of butts and diapers.
Sunday Afternoons Sun Hat
The. Best. Sun. Hat. Ever. For babies, for toddlers, for kids, and even for me. We all have them.
OK, not really needed for a baby, but if your kid won't poop in the toilet someday even though you know they can, try it. Kids are smart even if they can't articulate it. Sitting to poop is hard work and doesn't ever complete the job compared to standing or kneeling to use a pull-up. Let them squat over the toilet on a platform instead and be amazed.
Earthing Sheets or Throw Blanket
Earthing totally calms people and babies down. Since you may not be outside for quite some time, you can emulate the healing and soothing benefits of connecting with the Earth indoors. It's anti-inflammatory and stuff so do your research before you employ it if you are on blood medication.
If you are nursing you have some. If you are not nursing see if you can get yourself some. If your baby has acne, breast milk will clear it up. Cradle cap? Breast milk will clear it up. Diaper rash? Breast milk will clear it up. Pink eye? Yep. Breast milk. Basically just bathe your child in breast milk and all is well.
Before your baby is born get goldenseal and some Q-tips. Put it on your newborn's umbilical cord stump every time you change their diaper and it will dry up and fall off in a week vs. the usual weeks. SO AWESOME. Make sure you use Q-tips and don't double-dip to keep the powder clean. Make sure you don't get it in their face. P.S. The link to HerbLore.com is important. Keep it. My doula friend knows this woman personally. Her products are authentic. My midwife uses them. She rocks. Etc.
Because you can't put a onesie over that umbilical cord stump.
Footy Pajamas In Every Size
Babies usually grow out of their footy pajamas in the middle of the night. It's helpful to always have the next size up clean and handy to put on in a flash. Just sayin'.
Sounds obvious, but I forgot about it this time until I had to go out. Get one you like since it's like an extra purse.
For you. I'm partial to Dansko clogs and even Crocs. Yes, I said it. When you have a baby and you need to step outside for a moment you don't want to have to figure out how to bend over and tie your shoes.
Slippers You Adore
Because you will wear them a lot. A lot.
Extra Contact Lenses
Stock up before your prescription runs out. Going to the eye doctor with a baby can be skipped for a long time. Yay!
Got Someone Who Wants To Spend A Fortune On Your Wee One?There are only so many outfits your newborn or baby needs. Soon, however, they will need or you will want:
If you can't stop someone from spending on you, you can direct the flow away from mounds of space-consuming stuffed animals and plastic toys. Woot!