Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Step One: Eliminate
I’m sitting at my cluttered desk in front of a Mac that crashed a while ago. All my files, emails, music, photographs – everything – were lost. I had backups for some of it (like family photos and business documents, thank goodness), but not all. For example, when I inserted the backup disc called “Writing”-- a file that held everything I’ve ever written in 15 years -- the computer message said, “You’ve just inserted a blank disc. What would you like to do with it?”

I haven’t cried that hard and that dramatically since my teen years.

Now, I’m feeling a little more Zen. I can breathe again and do not feel like the world, the Universe and the Gods are all against me.  I see that I partly had really bad luck, and partly had a hand in this drama. So now I have a much better backup system. After all, this is my business, and my life. And more importantly, I don’t want to create dramas – honestly, I don’t. I want to save my energies for the things I truly care about, like having fun with my family and friends, and creating great work, and maybe volunteering.

So I am taking steps to minimize drama. One of them is called One Year to an Organized Life by Regina Leeds, a/k/a the Zen Organizer, according to the book jacket. I am committing, as she insists we do if we are to truly realize the fruits of our own unique talents, to an organized life. Once you do that, and create a Dream Board to help you visualize where you want to be, you follow the book’s steps to organize your entire life – home, finances, kitchen, office, photos, everything – in one year. Each month focuses on a different area of life.

If you’re interested, I’ll post here…so come along! You might just glean some golden nugget that will be a catalyst for your own life out of this journey.

I believe in starting at the beginning, so here’s what the introduction says, in a nutshell. A disorganized life is usually the symptom of patterns/behaviors/identities/issues that began early in your life. Identify those to help solve the root problems. Meanwhile, learn her tips and tricks in each chapter, which all center around three basic organizing steps: Step 1: Eliminate. Step 2: Categorize. Step 3: Organize.

I have to laugh. Step 1 is Eliminate? Check, check, and double check. I guess my computer life, at least, is well on its way to being organized.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Summer, Despite Itself

Berry picking on the Hood River Fruit Loop
So it’s the second-to-last day of August, and it’s raining. 2010 was the Summer That Wasn’t in Portland, but somehow, despite that, our experience of summer has been much more satisfying than last year’s (see The Best of Both Seasons, below). We’re all ready (and I mean I’m ready) for school to begin again. And I’ve heard the same from other families. Here are four things that I think made the difference:

1. We took breaks between camps. In between weeks that were crammed full of work for me and Mike and camp activity for the girls, we took the risk of having a week here and there that was, uh, unscheduled. Which was a little scary for Mom, I must say. Especially when Mom needs to be bringing home some bacon every week. But with well-timed play dates and help from family (and ok, if you must know, Walt Disney did his share too) we survived. The plus was, we got a little time that felt different from the regular school year, where we had the freedom to sleep in, meander the neighborhood, visit with friends and do as we please.

2. We bought a family pass to Wilson High Pool, which ensured we swam a LOT. Especially in the 3.5 days this year when it was truly hot.  Walking home with wet towels over our shoulders, smelling like chlorine and Banana Boat and munching bags of over-salty, oddly bright-yellow popcorn, we were creating memories we could anchor around.

Behind the scenes at NW Trek Wilderness Park
3. We road-tripped and camped. Summer without at least one road trip is like grocery shopping without hitting the wine aisle – it’s just not acceptable.  Our adventures weren’t epic – mostly to Southern Oregon; one to Eastern Oregon, and a couple of small camping trips sprinkled in– but we kept our family adventure cred. And we still have Labor Day!

4. We gardened. Well, when I say “gardened” I mean we planted approximately $46 worth of seeds and starts with the premature (it turns out) pride of being both self-sufficient and thrifty (a veritable recession-era Victory Garden is what I envisioned). That investment of cash and energy has thus far yielded 4 small, but might I say delicious, strawberries, one under-ripe cherry tomato (from the Charlie Brown Christmas tree of sad, spindly tomato plants – seriously, who grows a cherry tomato plant with but a single tomato??), and enough basil to maybe garnish a tiny cup of soup. But, hey, the girls had a great time watering. So what that I have to explain to them each evening why we’re not out harvesting our bounty for dinner like our overachieving neighbors? Just gives us more time to watch Disney!

That's my quick assessment. And I'm curious, how did it go for you? How did you feel about summer this year? Are you ready to go back to Fall's routine? Let me know - and happy Labor Day!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tips for Portland's New or Soon-to-Be Parents

Metro Parent published a couple of my stories recently that help new or expecting parents in the Portland area live more fully.
Check out:

"Pregnant in Portland? 10 Things You Need to Know" and
"After Baby's Born: The New Parents' Need-to-Know List" Metro Parent's online "Your Baby & You" special issue. Lots of other great information in there too!

Just click on this post's title, above, to be linked to the .pdf. Or go to

Happy parenting!