From my weekly column:
The plan is to walk every morning; the plan is to have time set aside for writing and (somewhat begrudgingly) managing a home office; the plan is to keep my home if not in domestic bliss, at least not a candidate for the new program “Hoarders”; and the plan is to fix meals with an eye to nutrition.
That is the basic plan, with a few variables thrown in—editing a college essay or advising my college age son who lives two hours away on the mysteries of cooking (which though I have not in any way mastered, I have fairly successfully fed a family of four for over a quarter of a century). And to my credit and great relief no one has ever gotten ill from my cooking in the last thirty something years. There was that incident when I made lasagne from stratch in university for some friends—but I no longer speak of it.
I also provide an ear for my eldest son, and hand out unsolicited advice to both he and his brother—I figure some of it sticks even if it is unacknowledged. But as with all plans, my plans get usurped on a regular basis.
Take this morning. The plan really was to walk, and when I and my walking partner planned on going out it was raining gently. A few minutes later, the rain was not so gentle. I called her and told her that the way I gauged whether we should go out or not was to observe the big puddle in the middle of my road—if it was starting to look like a lake, or the splashing rain was a little too vigorous, then I figured we should probably be sensible and not make like ducks. She laughed at the way I made the decision, but agreed that it was even raining a little too hard for her. She is more athletic than I and much more intrepid.
Okay, the writing part is working out today, as I work pretty well when on deadline, and both this column and some council news need to be written up. So for the next several hours I will be sitting at my computer trying to conjure up a column that hopefully someone will enjoy. I do not conjure up council news though—that is serious reporting on issues from collapsed drains to sewer separation to deciding on what heritage building to designate and,…. well, you catch my drift.
Office management is the hardest part of my plan. I have worked in offices, but in those offices I have had bosses. In this office I am the boss and I am just a little bit too laid back. I would fire me in a minute if I could. I am trying to improve though, and to that end, I am reading Regina Leeds’ book “One Year to an Organized Work Life.” She has monthly chores all planned out, and I read some of them with delight and some with dread. The ones I read with dread are the ones I need to incorporate, like creating a filing system whereby I can actually find the things I file once I have filed them. I profess that I am someone who needs to have my work out in plain sight or I will just not find it. Leeds does not think that this is a viable solution or excuse.
March is the month that she chose to talk about going from “piles to files”, learning the secrets of a filing system, and then maintaining the filing system. She has some good ideas which depend on getting the right types of files, knowing the categories things should be filed under (which is my big problem) and then maintaining the filing system. I am at the “having just read the advice stage”, which verges on the “ready to run out and get some coloured dots stage”. The dots will delineate topic and urgency. A red dot on a file will mean it has something to do with income tax, a blue dot will denote an insurance file, and the dreaded yellow is for caution: you better take care of this or Revenue Canada will put you in jail.
Keeping the house off the television program “Hoarders” is also part of ‘the’ plan. I would give myself a C most days on my housekeeping skills, but on a good day I can see a B- in my future. My cooking skills are a solid B, as long as you do not give me demerit points for convenience foods that come in really handy sometimes. I have friends who ask me in the morning what we are having for supper—and most of the time I have no idea. I think this lends a bit of serendipity to everyday life. Serendipity sometimes translates into a roasted chicken with all the fixings; serendipity also translates into warming up a pre-packaged lasagne dinner.
A day in the life would not be complete though without family and taking their needs into account. The stages of family life are as varied as the number of families that make up this world. With family, no amount of planning covers all the things that are expected of us, and I live by the words that are indelibly etched on my psyche: “(Wo)man plans, God laughs.”