Tag Archives: Opinion

Breaking Out of a Rut

In a Rut

Recognizing a rut

What does a rut look like and feel like?

“Stuck in a rut” is an idiom that means being mired in routine. The figurative phrase calls to mind the image of a wagon wheel hopelessly trapped in a deep rut on an unpaved road.    It feels like nothing is changing, that your life is the same all the time.  Basically, it is a fixed, usually boring routine.  You can be in a rut in relationships, at work,  in exercise or diet.  Ever had that feeling that you were going nowhere?  Just spinning your wheels?  That every day was the same?  When you are out of inspiration and ideas, you are stuck in a rut.  How can you get out of it ?  How can you get back to being creative, energetic, enthusiastic?

  1. Remember what you want.  Do you want to participate in a marathon?  Do you want THAT more than you want the doughnut at work?  How about free time on the weekend? Do you want that enough to do laundry during the evening during the week?
  2. Listen to your gut, your instinct.  I have found that when I feel a situation isn’t right for me, I should trust that feeling.  If something comes up that is a little out of your comfort zone, but you are interested in it, take a chance and do it.  You may find out something about yourself or your hidden abilities!
  3. Look at your to-do list and start on small tasks.  Clearing off your list can help make room for new ideas, new projects, and new ideas.  It can also give you energy, believe it or not.  Sometimes simply getting moving in ANY direction can help you refocus.
  4. Work on a self-improvement project.  No, I don’t mean a DIY house project or anything similar.  I mean, improve YOURSELF.  Read a book outside of your normal interests or even one on a subject you are interested in but don’t know much about.  Write a letter to the editor.  Take an online course; there are a lot of them available from mainstream universities online and FREE.  Take a class at the community college.  Go to a seminar.
  5. Talk to a friend or go out to dinner or a movie.  Sometimes getting out and about and spending time with others can get your mind off of the rut and help you break out of it.
  6. Get some exercise.   Not only may that spur new ideas and energy, it will improve your overall health and sleep.
  7. Break your pattern by doing something that you wouldn’t normally do.  If someone asks you to go to an ethic restaraunt that you haven’t been to or t see a movie of a genre that you don’t usually choose, say YES instead of no.
  8. Amazingly enough, helping someone else can help you.  If you simply cannot think of a way to get out of the rut, help out in a soup kitchen, clean out the closet and donate to a veterans’ group or local charity.Now what
  9. Don’t worry so much about mistakes.  If you try too hard to avoid failure, you will avoid success as well.  Learn from your mistakes; that is how you grow and develop good ideas and stimulate creativity, rather than stifling it.
  10. Remember that “this too shall pass.”  Everything passes, given enough time. If you are in a rut, remember that you will move through this; there will be brighter days ahead.
  11. Check your diet; sometimes eating too much junk, drinking too many things that are bad for you can make you feel stuck or uncomfortable.  Check it out and try eating a little healthier, changing a little at a time.
  12. Try a change of scenery – something simple like a walk in a natural area or as involved as a vacation.  Change your location and your surroundings.  Sometimes that is all it takes to jolt you back to creativity.  In addition, time away from the tasks at hand can give your mind the break it needs.
  13. Believe it or not, doodling helps.  Draw simple drawings or repetitive designs on a notepad for a little while.  Do it every day.  Do it when you are listening to someone or while watching TV. You will be surprised at how well this works to jump-start creativity.  Check out “zen doodling” or “zen doodles” or “doodle art” online – you will find a lot of ideas.
  14. Go for a long drive and listen to loud music.
  15. Listen to some TED talks.
  16. If your rut is diet, buy a new cook book.  Try a new type of food.  Try a new spice or ingredient.  Go to a new restaurant or try a new dish at your favorite restaurant.
  17. When you are at the grocery store, pick up a vegetable or fruit that you’ve never tried before.
  18. To keep weight loss continuing or to get off a weight loss “plateau,” change up your exercise routine.  Make sure you do different types of exercise: walking, basketball, racquet ball, aerobics, et cetera.
  19. Learn something new.  Pick up a new hobby, take an online course, go to a seminar.
  20. Set some goals.  Find something that you’ve always wanted to accomplish, set a goal and a time to accomplish it, and then break the goal down into smaller steps.  The goals don’t have to be large to start with; accomplishing anything, even a small goal, will help.
  21. If you are in a relationship rut, do something with your partner that is out of the ordinary.  If you don’t go to the theater, find something local and go.  Try out the local symphony.  Go to see a local sports team play.  Buy a conversation starter pack (cards with conversation starters) and try that.  Surprise your partner with a night out on the town – or even out of town!
  22. Attend a lecture with your partner – then go discuss it over coffee or dessert.
  23. Go out to dinner, try a new cuisine – and TURN OFF THE CELL PHONES!  Talk to each other, hold hands, go for a walk.

Nothing goes away until

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52 Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas

  1. Write a note on a napkin or small piece of paper for your spouse’s or child’s lunch.
  2. Do a chore for your spouse.
  3. Cook your spouse a nice meal (their favorite).
  4. Cut out heart shapes and write little notes about what you appreciate the most.
  5. Send a letter of love to your parents.
  6. Send a thank you note to someone you appreciate.
  7. Really listen to someone who needs it.
  8. Do something nice for yourself.
  9. Color with your child.
  10. Make Valentine’s Day cards.
  11. Print out a love poem in a nice font on nice paper for your loved one.
  12. Leave love notes around the house.
  13. Fill a cute mug with red and white candies.
  14. Put together a “romantic movie night” basket – movie, popcorn/candy,  beverage (or a more romantic combination of wine, cheese, and a romantic movie).
  15. Unplug and spend time together as a family.
  16. Write down the story of who you met your spouse for your children.
  17. Cut sandwiches into heart shapes.
  18. Bake Valentine’s Day cookies with your child.
  19. Make a CD of love songs.
  20. Cook a romantic dinner.
  21. Make heart shaped muffins or pancakes.
  22. Frame a love quote or poem.
  23. Give someone you love a red scarf.
  24. Make heart-shaped pins for your loved ones.
  25. Buy a simple, inexpensive bouquet and put into a vase.
  26. Make a set of personalized “coupons”.
  27. Give a candy bouquet.
  28. Make a Valentine’s shirt by tracing your children’s hands on the shirt with fabric paint – good for grandparents or parents.
  29. Make a booklet of love poems or quotes.
  30. Really simple: just spend a quiet evening together.
  31. Write a letter to someone you love; children specifically love getting mail.
  32. Leave an affectionate note on the mirror for your child or spouse.
  33. Make a garland of hearts and decorate your room, your child’s room, the dining room…
  34. Leave flowers on a friend’s front porch.
  35. Make a jar of quotes for someone.
  36. Make a bookmark for a book lover.
  37. Give yourself a gift – time to read, write, play games, play ball, sit still…
  38. Make  Valentines messages to wrap around candy bars.
  39. Using candy kisses and stickers, make a Valentine’s matching game and play with your kids.
  40. Put a message in a bottle and decorate the bottle.
  41. Decorate your child’s bedroom door with hearts, one per day.
  42. Make handmade hand-warmers.
  43. Make heart envelopes.
  44. Do “14 Days of Valentines” – 14 small gifts, one per day up to Valentine’s Day.
  45. Make handshaped Valentines for grandparents.
  46. Make paper fortune cookies with messages.
  47. “I dig you” – attach a bag of goodies to a plastic shovel.
  48. Make a Valentine’s door hanger with a pocket to hold goodies.
  49. Get a small bottle of honey, decorate it, and attach a note – “Bee Mine”.
  50. Make Mommy and Me journals that you and your child can write messages in and pass back and forth between you.
  51. Put together a list of date ideas on strips of paper, place in a nice vase or decorated jar – so that you and your spouse have date ideas for those nights when you are indecisive.
  52. Get a box of donut holes and add a note: “Donut you know I love you a hole bunch”.

 

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Really Useful Websites – November 2011

Rainy day ideas – since fall and winter can have plenty of days that are “inside days”…

Fall Holidays

  • http://www.kaboose.com/ is a family oriented website that has so much to offer.  They have Thanksgiving things up now (like http://holidays.kaboose.com/thanksgiving/) but there are also sections entitled Fall Family Fun 2011, Kaboose Games, and Kaboose Features.  There are also sections on Food, Health, and so forth.
  • www.holidays.net – this is a fantastic site.  There is a section for fun and wacky holidays, a holiday blog which contains blurbs on holidays as they come up, holiday travel, as well as one for holiday recipes.  There are also crafts for various holidays as well.  Very well done and enjoyable.
  • http://www.factmonster.com/ipka/A0909585.html.  This is a nice list of holidays around the world, with a blurb about the holiday and other links to related subjects.  The base site, however, is the real draw.  There is such a wide variety of things on the site.  There are sections on the fifty states, holidays in the US, people, science, math and money, and country profiles, among other things.  It is a wonderful resource.
  • http://www.history.com/topics/thanksgiving.  History.com is wonderful overall, but I really do like this section.  There are links to related people, events, and themes.  There is a nice history of Thanksgiving in the US, including links to article son the Pilgrims, Plymouth Colony, and so much more.  If you enjoy history and really want to know more about the background, this is the place to start.
  • http://www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/Thanksgiving.shtml.  This site is brief but has good links to travel tips, food tips and safety, and so forth.
  • http://www.foodnetwork.com/topics/thanksgiving/index.html.  Where else to go for recipes?  Of course, there are many places to go, but this is very nice.  There is a section on Holidays and Parties that has a nice selection of articles on turkey recipes, various sides, wine-friendly meals, and more.  There is even a section on gifts.

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Finish each day…

Finish every day and be done with it.

You have done what you could.

Some blunders and absurdities

no doubt have crept in;

forget them as soon as you can.

Tomorrow is a new day;

begin it well and serenely

and with too high a spirit

to be cumbered with

your old nonsense.

This day is all that is

good and fair.

It is too dear,

with its hopes and invitations,

to waste a moment on yesterdays.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

What a great reminder to let go of mistakes, not to dwell on problems that are  minor but frequently seem like major mountains in the moment.  Who doesn’t need to remember this at times?

I posted this at work because I have a tendency to really obsess about mistakes I make at work.  Well, you know, I work in a bankruptcy department working with data.  To be honest, if I make a mistake (which I will, being human and all), nothing truly life-threatening will happen.  This isn’t to say that I need to NOT make mistakes, but it does mean that I need to not stress so MUCH about the mistakes I make.  I try to learn from the mistakes I make, so that in the future I won’t make the SAME mistakes over and over.    But this is a good reminder that we should all let it go.  Let go of the silly things, the irritating things that happened over the course of the day.

Tomorrow is a blank slate, a fresh beginning.  Take what you learned yesterday….and run with it.  🙂

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Really Useful Websites (February 2009)

  • Presidential trivia in time for Presidents’ Day

o Kaboose.com – Presidents’ Day 2009 – I highly recommend taking a look at this site in general, but I found their information on Presidents’ Day, with activities for children, particularly appealing.  There are tabs for crafts, activities, printables, and “All about the Presidents”.

o Snopes – Presidents Day – now here is an interesting article on Presidents’ Day and all of the confusion surrounding the birthdays of Washington and Lincoln.

o Presidents USA – this is quite a collection of links to sites related to the presidents of the United States.  Some are better than others, but I think it is worth taking a little while to look around.

  • Romantic Gift Ideas

o Lovingyou – Need I say more than the name of the site?  There are “every day romance” ideas and gift ideas as well.  There are sections for Date Night, Romantic Travel, and Recipes for Two, and much more.  Well worth some time looking around.

o Romantic Gift Ideas – This site has sections for Date Night, Bedroom, Breakfast Recipes, Dinner Ideas, and Games, among others.  I found interesting ideas on making a bedroom a more romantic place, as well as some good romantic ideas.  I also like the fact that viewers can share stories – that is frequently a great source of inspiration!

  • Humor Sites (or humorous sites!)

o Roadside America – Ok, what’s not to like about this site?  If you are looking for oddities to go see, THIS is the site for you!  If you are looking for an offbeat vacation destination, what better place to start?  There are tips, visitor tips, maps, and a section on hotels as well!  Go browse!  There are even themes, including – and I shudder at the thought – two-story outhouses!

o Southern Humorists – I admit it…I’m a Southerner, so I might be JUST a WEE bit biased on this one, but I enjoyed browsing around this site.  It certainly provides enough material to fill the brief breaks I’m able to take on the computer for quite a while!

  • Black History Sites:  the sites or pages below contained a variety of information that I found useful and interesting.  I’m not claiming that I’m posting anything anyone couldn’t find easily – but I’m posting sites that I felt were well-done.  If anyone reading this has other suggestions, I welcome additions to the list via comments!

o About.com – African-American History

o Biography.com – 101 Facts about African American History

o History.com – Black History Facts

o Black Inventor Online Museum – a wealth of information!

  • Miscellaneous

o Mental Floss – stimulating! I look forward to a subscription in the near future!  (Well, I’m working on it – gotta find the time to read!)

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Keeping a work journal

What is a work journal? Well, it can be a number of things. It can be a “project” journal/notebook, containing the details of a specific project, as well as notes about any problems that arise, things to remember for the next project, ways to improve the work process, and so on. It can be a record of “cover your rear end” information: information about incidents at work, documentation of your role in the situations, documentation of confrontations, and so on. It can also be a record of the details of your work on various projects at the same time: an organized method so that you can keep it all straight. It can also simply be a book of notes related to your job in general – numbers you need to remember, helpful websites, conversations you’ve had and need to remember, information you need to transfer to a calendar or another record, et cetera.Why keep a work journal? There are many possible benefits of keeping a work journal, as well as many reasons that you may wish to keep one. The journal can be helpful in tracking information that management needs, such as hours spent on each specific project, things that went well and things that did not, and materials used or needed. You can also use a work journal to cover yourself (CYA for those who know what that stands for; I won’t spell it out!). This is particularly important if you are in a situation with a coworker that involves confrontations or conflict; it is a good idea to document everything: time, date, people involved, general situation, your response, the other person’s response, and so on. Other reasons to keep a work journal include:

  • For your own use: to keep track of time spent on various projects
  • To keep track of information on various projects
  • To record information on why you made decisions that you did, how you arrived at the decision, and so on
  • To prepare you for your next job opportunity. For example, you might keep track of accomplishments, projects worked on, and awards/recognition received. You could also track any training you receive on the job.
  • Also useful in preparing for performance reviews
  • To evaluate your own work, to look for ways to improve
  • It can relieve stress. This can be true if you keep a work journal for your own sake, perhaps not on company equipment (i.e., computers). It could allow you to vent your frustrations.
  • It can help organize you.
  • It gives you a place for reflection. You can think about what went right with your day, along with what went wrong, and how to get the results you want.

What do you put in a work journal? Well, some ideas have already been mentioned. For a journal that you are keeping for your own use, you could include ways to improve, notes on assignments that pertain to you only (like things YOU need to remember), important dates to add to your calendar, and assorted notes on things you need to do your job. In a more generic work journal that management might look at, you could include business-related ideas like how to improve processes or procedures, and ways to make a project more successful. You could also list your accomplishments; the boards, committees, groups that you work on, time spent on projects; products you created or were involved in creating – basically, all the information you THINK that you’ll remember when looking for a new position or for a promotion but that you won’t when it comes time.

What format do you use? Well, that is entirely up to your preference and probably depends a little on the purpose. If this is an “official” work log, you may want to keep it in a word processing program on your computer. That is easy to update, print out, and make copies of as well. If it is more for you than anything, you may wish to keep it on paper; then it can’t be confiscated if you are told to pack your things and leave. That actually is an argument for keeping one for your own purposes as well as the “official” work log – so that you have a record of achievements, awards, accomplishments, promotions, and so on. One thing to remember if you keep the work log on company equipment: you need to consider your company’s rules on document retention and destruction.

One side note on blogs. I would recommend being careful about keeping a work-related blog. There have been instances where that has become a problem for the employee; I am not sure what the legal ramifications are, but I would recommend being careful about putting too much about your job online. Companies do apparently “google” employees these days; be careful about what you put out there. I found a number of sites that I found interesting on this subject:

Some suggestions about keeping a work log/work journal include:

  • Date/time stamp entries that may be used in preparing for performance reviews
  • Indicate the start dates/end dates where applicable.
  • At the end of each hour, jot down a few notes about how the hour was spent. At the end of the day, write an overview. Note how the time was actually spent versus how you wanted to spend it; is there room for improvement? What slowed you down? After doing this for a time, you should be able to see if there are patterns that need changing.

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The FDA and Cold Medicines for Children – Part II

According to a Washington Post article today, here (for now), federal officials are now recommending that “consult your physician” be dropped from guidelines on boxes of cold/cough medicine for children under two.  These medicines, in many cases, simply should not be given to young children.  “The preliminary recommendation, from Food and Drug Administration safety officials would apply to decongestant use in children under 2 and antihistimines in those younger than 6, according to agency documents released Friday.”

More than 350 pages of documents were released on Friday.  They are part of a broad investigation into whether roughly 800 medicines (yes, 800) are safe and effective in treating children’s colds and coughs.  Many of those medicines are popular and widely used.

“An FDA review of side-effect records filed with the agency between 1969 and September 2006, found 54 reports of deaths in children associated with decongestant medicines made with pseudoephedrine, phenylephrine or ephedrine. It also found 69 reports of deaths associated with antihistamine medicines containing diphenhydramine, brompheniramine or chlorpheniramine.”  In addition, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report also found more than 1500 toddlers and babies wound up in ERs in a two-year period as a result of the medicines.

The Consumer Healthcare Products  Association (represents makers of OTC medicines)  is backing the recommendation that these products not be given to young children and in terms of antihistamines, they recommend that a warning be added that the medicines not be used to sedate children.

How sad is it that you have to add a warning about that?  And really, do they think that the types of people that would use it for that purpose would care whether there is a warning on the box or not?  It seems to me that the only purpose for that warning is for legal purposes for themselves.  I admit that I’ve wondered about how effective these medicines have been on my two-year-old, but he’s rarely (thank goodness) sick so it hasn’t come up much.  He has taken an antihistimine occasionally, on the recommendation of his doctor, so I wonder about that part of the article as well.  I’m going to have to talk to his doctor about this next time I go in (or rather, next time WE go in).

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