Category Archives: The world and my place in it

The list of favorite things, updated

Seven years ago I wrote a post about my favorite things. I used a list from a notebook for a digital photography class I took at Stanford University one summer, many years ago, making a few adjustments.

Here is my list from January 2012:

  • Summer mornings
  • martinis
  • the dappled light across the backyard
  • Sunday newspaper
  • walkways
  • bookstores
  • cookies baking in the oven
  • fresh fruit
  • meeting deadlines
  • my daughter (I would add my grandchildren, now)
  • pine tree smell
  • cold cereal (that one is now off my list due to lactose intolerance)
  • unique shopping centers
  • cats
  • purple
  • books on a shelf
  • corner office with a window
  • teenagers having fun
  • my husband
  • lunch with friends
  • my journals (I would now add this blog)
  • my prayer time
  • fine point pens
  • San Francisco

Would the list be the same today, in January 2019? Most of it. I would definitely put husband and grandchildren at the top of the list. Lunch with friends has become more special to me this last year after losing friends with whom I will never lunch again. I still like San Francisco, and I miss being there, but it has changed so much in these seven years that I would now delete it. Unique shopping centers have just about disappeared so that would go off the list. I would definitely add social media as I enjoy that more and more. I would trade first graders listening to a story for teenagers having fun.

I wonder what will change in the next seven years?

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Ask questions. Commit. Solve problems.

I pulled another book from my shelves this morning since I have no where to be all day and am home, doing laundry.  I’m still looking for ideas as to how to function in this new year.

Today’s book is one of John Maxwell’s, Good Leaders Ask Great Questions. I’ve had it for a few years and read it through at least once as there are notes written all over the pages. Some are:

  • “To be successful, build relationships with the people in the room. Establish commonality, prompt people to think, ‘me to!’ not, ‘so what?'”
  • “You may not be able to change the people around you, but you can change the people you choose to be around.”
  • “Humble leaders revel in the accomplishments of others, empower others to excel, and allow others to shine.”
  • “We are literally capable of doing more and going higher than we believe we can. It takes creativity, tenacity, belief.”

That last one reminds me of Saturday’s post about creativity, vision, and grit.

While reading today, I came across this quote from Kenneth Blanchard, “There’s a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when it’s convenient. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results. That’s what leaders do. They commit and follow through.”

That quote reminds me of Monday’s post about one’s reputation. What are you known for? Being interested or being committed?

Finally, a piece near the end of the book popped out at me as I have this situation with a person in my life where they tell me the same problem over and over, I offer solutions, they don’t follow through, then bemoan the same problem the next time I see them. This is what John Maxwell writes:

“…many people cared more about being heard and understood than about changing and growing, and there was little I could do about it. (I)f he or she decides not to follow my direction, I can choose not to give him or her any more of my time. Why should I continue to invest in someone who doesn’t want to follow my direction and grow?”

It’s often been said, people will only change when they want to. I’ve decided to just keep my ideas to myself and distance myself from someone who has no desire to change,  but just talk about the problem. I like to solve problems.

Eat cake

Monday saw another storm roll over California. The GrapeVine, the highway that connects the Central Valley with Los Angeles, was closed due to snow. Cold, wet weather here in Fresno. But The Ladies Who Lunch were tucked into a locally owned restaurant for a delicious time. Lots of catching up. Lots of planning for the year. We meet every month at a different restaurant. One that is usually small. Definitely locally owned. Preferably using locally-sourced food. That one isn’t too hard since we live in the food basket of the world.

Today’s selection not only uses locally-sourced food, but also hires those who are coming out of addiction and/or homelessness. They recently moved from a downtown location to one farther out in the north part of the city, where there is more money and more people who eat out. Our group chose it because of the new location. It has gone into a spot where a previously favorite cafe had moved out.

I had been seeing their Facebook posts about their cakes, and since I love cake, had already decided that would be my “lunch.” I ordered a sampler of cake–vegan chocolate, carrot, coconut, and citrus upside-down. The citrus and coconut were very delicious. The chocolate was good, especially the frosting. The carrot failed–dry, dense, and unflavorful.

The other gals ordered soups or hamburgers. I offered to share my cake and some tried bites. They too found the cakes to be delicious. They know that I often will select a really good dessert over a savory menu offering when we go out. Life is short–eat cake.

Your reputation

Fastcompany.com lists seven habits of people with great reputations, and I think they are worth sharing:

They get things done.

They take ownership of their mistakes.

They are generous.

They listen to other points of view.

They’re decisive.

They don’t sacrifice principles.

They’re resilient.

Creativity, vision, and grit

I read a piece this morning that said those three things–creativity, vision, and grit–are important for the work you do. Creativity and grit seem to be my strong points. Vision? Not so much, at least not any more. I have trouble figuring out what my life should look like in one year, five years, and onward. I think I’ve lost my optimism.

Because Terry would be gone most of the day, and the only real chore I had was vacuuming the entire house, I decided I would stay home, do that vacuuming first thing, and spend lots of time thinking and reading. Thinking on the vision thing, especially. I got out a book that I bought and read about 15 years ago. It was just sitting there, on the bookshelf, looking at me, so decided that was the one to look at. Much of its content was based on building relationships. Every person with whom I come in contact is important. I need to be more aware of that fact.

As I interact with people, and realize their needs, then I can see what the next step would be and what part I might play. It’s sort of the idea of being in the moment and open to what comes your way. The authors went into more detail, but that was the gist of the book. This all sounds good and well on a quiet Saturday when there are no immediate demands on my time. Perhaps applying more creativity to the issue would help. How can I better manage my time so as to be available to others? Where are other resources and how do I glom on to them? One of my frailties is getting others to take on responsibilities for worthwhile projects. It’s hard for me to stir others’ passions.

After much pondering, I put away the book and my journal and went outside to rake leaves. That task requires some grit but very little creativity.

Version 2019

The first full week of 2019 wasn’t all that much different than 2018, except busier!

My car spent over a week at the mechanic’s to get the head gaskets and timing belt replaced. When I went to pick it up Thursday morning, a cold, foggy morning, mind you, it was drenched in water. I felt bad for it as it’s not used to camping outdoors. True, Subarus are built for the outdoors, but my car, like me, spends little time out in rough weather, and we’ve had some the last week.

Because we had only one car all week, I had to change my trips around so that I could be home for Terry to make his various trips. On Tuesday I went with him, all the way across town, to get a heart monitor installed. He had a doctor’s appointment late Monday where it was decided this was needed to see if his heart is skipping a beat here and there. He wears the monitor for seven days, then puts it in the mail. The company will be able to read every beat his heart made (or didn’t). It’s attached to his skin, just over his heart, and it only took about 10 minutes for this, but the drive over and back took a half hour each way.

Wednesday was a horse of another color. We both needed to be in two different places at the same time, so I dropped Terry at the hospital for his cardiac rehab and I drove to Columbia to read to the first and second graders. The kids were all delighted to have me back after our three-week Christmas break. The staff seemed pleased, too. Then I drove back across town to pick Terry up. About midway, on an extremely busy street (6 lanes of traffic and two turn lanes), I came across a pack of loose dogs. Big dogs. That was scary. Fortunately, the traffic had slowed, stopped, and were honking at the animals. But, it traumatized me. Also made the trip about a half hour longer than it should have been.

We got up at five o’clock Thursday morning because my car was now ready to pick up but Terry needed to be at a meeting at 9 am so we had to leave early to swing by the mechanic’s and get the car. I was so thrilled to get my car back. My own car. The car with which I am familiar. The car that is so easy to drive. The car that has automatic locks and windows.

I got home and went to work preparing and packing food to deliver–bread pudding for a friend and for a recuperating church member’s husband–a complete meal for a family with a new baby. Everyone wanted to chat but I had to keep on my schedule. When I made my last delivery, right on the scheduled time, the husband answered the door, and said, “you sure are prompt.” I try.

On Friday, Terry headed off to cardiac rehab and I stayed home to take care of all laundry that had piled up all week. He got home at noon and soon realized he had lost his wallet. Probably at the hospital where he goes for the rehab. Without a driver’s license, I needed to be the driver (again). There was no trace of the wallet at any of the places he had been. All of the information desks were checked. Nothing. We headed to the bank to put a stop on his atm card only to find that he would have to call an 800 number so decided to do that from home so he could call on his credit card and other cards in the wallet. Pulling into the garage (in my car), Terry said he would check his car interior one more time. He found it had slipped between seat and shift console. Thank God.

I’m thinking next week should be quieter, but who knows.

Time to get back to work

This is the first Monday of the New Year and it’s back to routine around here. School is back in session. People are back at work. The holidays are over and regular life returns.

Last summer the neighbors across the street moved more people into their house. Although not much bigger than our house, they now have four adults and three young children living there. One of the new residents is an older gentlemen who I call the grampa. He is worth his weight in gold.

From all indications, grampa still works at a job. It may be a security position, perhaps with the schools, because I sometimes see him coming home with a neon colored vest on. He brings the kids home from school, too, so that makes me think that. He washes all of the cars each week. He does the yard work. Today when he got home he took down the front yard Christmas decorations and put out the trash cans. All of this is more than the younger couple who lived there for the past two years usually do. Every time I see him out working, I say, “Wish we had a grampa.”

We haven’t had regular garbage pickup for the past few weeks due to Christmas and New Year’s falling on Tuesday, our usual pick up day. I had to purposely think about getting the containers out this afternoon as the trucks will be rolling through early tomorrow morning. We have really good refuse collection here. A few years ago the mayor tried really hard to privatize the service, selling it off to some company who wasn’t unionized. The citizens became outraged and put it to a vote. NO. We want our city waste collectors. We want them paid a good wage and with good benefits. That’s how good they are. Like the grampa across the street–they get the job done.