Hidden silver linings

No cats were harmed in the writing of this blog post.

There’s not much these days that gets under my skin. For the most part, I take things in stride. I guess I’m learning — slowly — that things have a way of working out.

Remember this post from the other day? Remember how excited I was about that discovery? Well, lo and behold, today I noticed the Colored. Bars. ARE. GONE.

Now the problem came when I jumped to an erroneous conclusion. Someone suggested that I was working too fast (with not enough accuracy) and part of that conversation referenced the colored bars. And so the problem was then exacerbated when I took it personally. (Girl, see Agreement 2 of The Four Agreements.)

Once you jump to a conclusion and take things personally, it’s harder to “let it be.” Harder to say and mean, “perfect, what’s next?” Hard to remember “yes, and.”

As a matter of fact, the experience of jumping and taking creates an almost tangible thing that you have to carry around with you. What I was carrying was a black bag, possibly full of cats. The bag was moving an awful lot. Like someone was inside punching outward. Or the cats were trying to escape.

So now we have not only the jump to the conclusion and the taking it personally, we now also have this black bag requiring attention and physical presence to keep from dropping the jumping thing.

Finally, the official word comes back. No one knew the bars were gone and they had most likely disappeared during the most recent software update.

No one was targeting my speed. No one was trying to impact my work. NO ONE WAS EVEN THINKING ABOUT ME AT ALL!

And while I could immediately drop the erroneous conclusion and realize it wasn’t about me (AS PER USUAL!), the black bag remained for awhile as the cats slunk out one by one.

That silver lining though. When I decided they were targeting me (ludicrous, I know), I decided to switch out of super-efficient mode into more of an “ok, I will do it your way, precisely, to the letter.” I stopped doing all the little tricks I do to more efficiently and went back to the job exactly as it was designed.

I like being efficient, but I discovered after a few hours that my little tricks have been contributing to the stress of my job, something about which I have been worrying lately.

I love this work, but I don’t love what it does to me physically. Always feeling pressured, always revved up inside, skipping breaks, and allowing the adrenaline to be a raging river within.

When I simply gave up, simply submitted to doing it as designed, the stress went away. I’m looking forward to my next shift when I won’t have to juggle the black bag and can just calmly do the job without worrying about anything.

And who knows — maybe the colored bars will return at some point. Whether they do or don’t I’ll be fine. They were a fun little puzzle to solve on every item, and therefore were a pleasurable part of the day, but I learned that I will be fine without them.

“Yes” the bars are gone, “and” look what came out of that!



Privilege Malfunction Today


You know how it is … the people who set policy are not always very in touch with the people who have to carry it out. There’s probably even a name for the phenomenon. The disconnect occurs in government, schools, companies, anywhere there is an org chart.

Unfortunately, there are way too many times when the policy that is set is actually not possible to implement successfully. No matter how much the policy makers want it.

I do think I have lived in a state of some privilege not to have experienced this phenomenon much at all. I realize that there are people for whom this is a reality; people who cannot extricate themselves from difficult situations.

Now I’m almost always up for a challenge. I am energized by meeting and exceeding expectations. But when you have the responsibility but not the authority, that’s a recipe for disaster.

I may have recently been told about a metric I am to meet. As much as I would like to succeed, I am not the only person involved. Others must do their part in order for everyone to succeed. And for whatever reason, when all the puzzle pieces aren’t on the table, you can’t possibly finish the puzzle.

(Whew, I’m full of metaphors today.)

And I let this expectation get into my head today. For awhile. But ain’t no way that unrealistic expectation gets to steal my joy.

I’ll admit; I had to do some fancy footwork to shift my internal state. But I knew it was possible and I decided to focus on the possible rather than the impossible.

So like Rainer Maria Rilke said, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”



I love an Addict

I’m gonna wrap my heart

in thick, bright tape

lots and lots of it

to stop the pain of loving

this precious child whose

heart is broken.

im gonna wrap my brain

with brown paper and green string

to hide the worry that he won’t make it

that his love for altered states

will make it impossible

to live in a world of beauty

hidden under heartbreak.

No. Wait.

i will not turn off my life

my love, my thoughts, my dreams

i will hold on to believing

that he has what it takes

to beat this. To win.

to be the  beautiful person he is

beneath the lies and thief of addiction

my child.

my child.

my child.



Housekeeping 101


I’m always behind in my housecleaning. You know how it is. You complete one thing, and not only does it get busy right that second getting dirty again, but there are items EVERYWHERE that need to be cleaned, dusted, straightened, folded, put away, and trashed.

I decided that since it’s a reality that I always feel behind, maybe it would be helpful if I created a chart where I could simply note the date I last did a chore. It’s kind of the same idea as a to-do list, which I love to make and cross off items one by one.

One might think that a chart could contribute to self-judgment, and I suppose it could, but it’s not like I’m not already judging myself because I haven’t gotten to the … floor, windows, vacuuming, dusting, you name it. The chart actually soothes me as it shows me concrete evidence that these things ARE getting done. Maybe not as often as the Perfect Homemaker® might do it, but nobody likes her anyway.

Having the chart is motivation to me to do the tasks listed thereon. I have a chart in the bathroom, two in the kitchen, and one down the basement. Here’s an excerpt:


With the actual data there, I am FREE to decide to do something more often because I don’t have this nebulous free-floating anxiety about Not Being Caught Up.

Thanks, as always, for reading!



Faster, Henry, Faster~!

Recent self-portrait

Each year at our family reunion, we enjoy a newsletter with updates from each family member. Mostly, people talk about vacations they have taken, new jobs, retirements, the usual suspects. One person’s news this year consisted of the fact that she is retired and spends her days watching tv and playing games on her laptop. (No judgment here! Just stating a fact.)

Watching TV. Playing games on her laptop.

Now, I watch my share (or probably more than my share) of Netflix. And I do enjoy me some Toon Blast pretty much every day. But that description strikes me as a life of pretty much leisure time, and even though I do those same activities, I don’t see my life as having much leisure time. As a matter of fact, I’m busy, busy, busy. All. The. Time.

I read these things about downtime, the value of relaxation and recreation, taking a “sabbath” day. Maybe it’s time to reread some of those things. I love my life — my wonderful family, my job, the opportunity to blog, my friends, podcasts, books, movies.

Of course there are seasons in our lives. But aren’t seasons supposed to change? What would we miss out on if we had endless summer? Or unending winter?

I’ve let this post simmer for a couple of days because my posts tend to be about lessons I have learned, not so much about things I am in the middle of. I’m going to have to chalk this one up to being mid-situation, pre-resolution.

The one thing I have found that helps is to take a piece of paper and write down all the tasks that come into my mind. Once I get them out of my head and onto paper my brain seems to settle down. And while they are in my brain, everything seems urgent and the tasks seem unending. When I write them down, voila, there are still plenty and some of them are urgent, but everything seems a bit more manageable.

While making a list addresses the practical aspect, I still haven’t even touched what it would mean to act as if I have all the time I need, that relaxing and leisure time are not only justifiable but even essential. My housekeeping needs aren’t going away any time soon. Opportunities to work with and teach Kepler are myriad and have the potential for long-term impact.

All I know right now is the sheer volume of details is getting to me. While I can’t imagine ever wanting to spend my days playing games and watching tv (still no judgement), a less frenetic pace does have a certain appeal. In keeping with my philosophy, it’s time to look for something to move toward, some non-frenetic thing that I want to go toward. What is that for you? What tips do you have for a busy, working mom and wife to be something other than a perpetual motion machine?

As always, thanks for reading.





News from the Clicklist Front

So I thought I’d post a picture of me at work.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Alabama 500 - Practice

Hehe. But I am pretty speedy quick.

i haven’t posted much about work but I made a discovery I am really excited about so I’m going to write here, on my blog, about it.

Clicklist selectors use a handheld device called a rad which tells you the next item to pick and includes the mapping location for the store. Location is as follows: aisle.shelf.spot. It’s designed to be able to be used by the greenest, newest employee from the get-go. The whole system is set up to be as mistake-proof as possible and it works pretty well.

Anyone who knows me at all, though, knows I’m interested in continuous improvement. I like to do better and be better with each passing day. After five months I’ve learned a few ways to work with the system to be more efficient.

Here’s how it works:

I scan six tags which are on totes. The totes are numbered 1-6. After this step, the first item appears on the screen. Maybe it’s some kind of shampoo. The item is listed, along with the UPC code, and the location. A lot of times, the location is correct, but there are a number of reasons why it might not be. Anyway, off I go to the location to find the item. I find it, scan it, and then and only then the rad tells me which tote to put it in. Then I put the item in the correct tote and scan the tote. Only after that does the rad tell me the next item and location. All along the way there are built-in safeguards to keep you from picking up the wrong item. You can’t scan the wrong item or the wrong tote without a tone letting you know YOU DID IT WRONG, BUCKO.

Just like every piece of electronic equipment known to man, we run into (LOTS OF) times when we have to wait for the “server” to respond. So, I might stand there for a few seconds waiting to find out which tote to put the item in. These few secondses add up.

I just discovered that the rad has a colored bar across the top on every entry. Well, actually, I knew the rad had a colored bar but I didn’t know it meant anything. But it does! It means something important and helpful and cool!  The six totes are color-coded. Tote 1 has a maroon bar; tote 2 has a green bar, etc. What this means is that I now know without waiting which tote the item is going to go into.

Corporate has set up standards for how many seconds it should take to pick each item, and how accurately we complete the task. The goal is 38 seconds per item. That may not mean much without context — each selector pushes a large trolley through the store up and down the aisles, so part of the time is moving from location to location through the entire store. There is a huge range of seconds-per-item among selectors. I’ve been hovering around 38-42 seconds lately. With this realization about the color coding and utilizing it on the job, my pick time today was significantly lower per item.

Selectors don’t get any extra incentive pay for being fast, but truly if i was only working for money, there might be other jobs that pay more. But this job is just a great fit for me!

This post is probably a little “niche.” Probably along the line of two plumbers joking around about someone using a particular wrench for a job. (h/t to Steve Martin for that idea) Probably this is the kind of thing that most people aren’t really going to be able to appreciate the significance of. But I wanted to write about it because to me this is a very exciting discovery and has some pretty cool benefits.

Ooh, and one last thing. The “big boss” (supervisor over several stores) was in today and my supervisor had me tell him about the effectiveness of using the color-coded bars the way I am. He didn’t just take my word for it, but said he was going to do some research about it, because he hadn’t heard this from anyone else.

Cool thing was when I mentioned that totes 1 and 6, and totes 3 and 5 are very close in color, he said he is able to change those colors to any color we want! That will make the process even better! I look forward to that happening.


If you haven’t already tried clicklist, do! The $4.95 fee for the first three orders will be waived. There is no upcharge for your items. Kroger has a very nice produce section that is restocked constantly all day every day. And if we provide a substitution you do not care for, you do not have to pay for it. Give it a try!






Of Denim Jackets and Snoozing

Before living in Australia, before having children, before I had ever tried Giordano’s pizza, before buying our first home, many years ago on this day I woke up planning to go to breakfast with my new college friends. I was a transfer student at Wheaton College and several of us had made plans to go to breakfast.

When I checked in with the girls, one after another of them claimed they were too tired and every single girl backed out. Well, here I was, all dressed and ready to go. Fresh off the most amazing 18 days of my life where I had gained tons of confidence and resolve, I determined I’d just go to breakfast alone and see who I came across.

As a walked up the sidewalk toward SAGA, the old Wheaton dining hall, I spied a denim jacket with a shearling collar up ahead and I realized it was a student I had recently met named Greg Taylor. I paused for a second and then called out, “Greg?” He turned and waited for me and we ended up eating breakfast together — for three hours.

I was hooked. His warm, gentle, caring, intelligent self shone through and Made An Impression on this 20-year-old from Ohio.

September 2, 1982. 36 years ago today. I guess I had an inkling that this was something special because look what I saved:


Of all the special dates in our life together, I remember this one for being the beginning, even though it took awhile before we actually started dating.

Newspapers are no longer 25 cents, and Zingo Bingo or lottery prizes of $15,000 are nothing these days, but we’re still together. Still having breakfast together. Still sharing this good life together. Still a couple and now a family with the addition of five offspring.

Thanks, girls, for sleeping in that morning! It changed my life!



A tiny bud of creativity

Over the past few days, I’ve noticed a small and quiet pull toward my blog. A growing longing to write again. I’m excited about this because my creative juices have been pretty sparse for awhile.

I’m just heading into work for the day and will be busy but let’s see if this little bud grows into a shoot into a bloom into a flower. Thanks for reading!

Super Brief Update on Siouxsie

A hint about my job, but also an interesting product for sale. “Extra Green” green beans. What will they think of next?

I can barely call myself a blogger these days. Three months without a post.

Because, see, I got a job. One where I go out of the house early in the morning and stay there until early in the afternoon. One where I am with people all day. One where I walk 3-5 miles during my work. One where I have fun, serve people, and enjoy being myself.

When I interviewed, I said I wanted 24 hours per week. I was a little nervous about working after so many years having been a SAHM, so I didn’t want to overdo it right out of the gate. It wasn’t a minute before I realized this was a GREAT fit for me and I sought out ways to work more hours.

The job started while Kepler was still in school and I wasn’t sure what was going to happen when summer arrived. But, with the help of my tribe, mostly Greg, my mom and faux pa, he has been well cared for, and I have gotten lots of practice at logistics.

So I’m 8 1/2 months into the keto lifestyle and three months into my job. Both are a great fit for me. Both give me lots of positive things and reinforce lots more positive things.

My blog continues, albeit in fits and starts.

Today is quiet, overcast and rainy. The windows are open so I feel the effects of the rain and I hear the cars splashing through the puddles as they drive by occasionally. It couldn’t be a more perfect day. I hope yours is going well.



LPT: When You Get New Internet Service


LPT (Life Pro Tip)

I suppose I’m not the only household that has switched cable/internet companies from time warner to directv to cincinnati bell (locally) and back again. I’m guessing readers from further away have their own version of these three.

This time when I changed I had a brainstorm.

In my life, in my very humble opinion, I have entirely too many login usernames and passwords to keep track of. 1Password does a good job of keeping track of things, but there are just objectively a great number of these to deal with.

So here’s the tip.

When you get a new network, name it the same thing as the old network. When you choose a new password, make it the same as the old password.

(Note: you often hear you shouldn’t use the same password for multiple sites. Using the same password for an old network and a new network is like using the password for ONE network. That thing about multiple sites does not apply here.)

As I was watching the installer yesterday, I realized that there were going to be several complications if I now had to deal with a new network name and new password. Keeping things the same made this switch over very nearly seamless, not only for me, but for everyone and everything in our home that connects to our wifi.

You are quite welcome.