Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The List - Eat the Frog

For most of my formative years I was a disorganized procrastinator. Nothing really tragic happened - but enough "oh no!" moments - like carrying the American Express bill around in my purse for a month so when Joe went to buy me a birthday present - they took the card. I'm sure I caused some awkward moments for my kids, as well, with missed permission slips, forgetting the day of class pictures and others that I'm sure they'd love to share.

When I started working I thought I could carry all my deadlines and duties around in my head, and for a while it worked. As my responsibilities grew and I became more involved in the community, I knew the mental calendar was going to lead to disaster - not being where I needed to be or missing an important deadline does not lead to success in business.

Knowing I had to do something ,and being a non-techie ,I started a practice which worked for me. Every night before I left work I wrote a list of all the things I needed to do the next day. I placed it front and center on my desk so it was the first thing I saw in the morning. As I completed items on the list I'd cross them off with the fattest magic marker I could find. Most days, other things came up and not all the items were completed, but every time I made a slash with that marker, I felt a sense of accomplishment. I found that the least pleasant tasks often made it to the list for days on end and sometimes spilled over to the next week.

One day in the nineties I attended a seminar . The speaker talked about lists like mine - but with one difference. He called it "Eat the Frog". I can't remember the guy's name or even where the seminar was, but I don't want to take credit for someone else's idea. It is so simple:

Say you have a list of things to do today and one of them is to eat a frog. Instead of putting it at the bottom of the list, eat the frog first. Everything else you do that day will seem like a piece of cake. I started using that method and it made an incredible difference in my work and home life.

I promised myself that I'd continue to use the lists in retirement and for the most part I have. I stopped altogether on my recent trip out west. As a result, I probably wasted more time on the computer and just wandering around than I have in years. I was even less diligent with the crossword puzzle. Now I'm back home and back on track with the lists. I think they may be more important to me now that I have total freedom to use my time as I wish. There is nothing earth shattering on my lists but what's there keeps me focused and prevents wasting precious time. I finished today's list by 3:30 - so I rewarded myself by sitting in a chair watching Jeopardy. Here's tomorrow's list:
  • Finish cleaning out bookcase
  • Make Dr. appointments
  • Call Lorraine and Elba
  • Write 2 thank you notes
  • Defrost salmon
  • Go to the beach with my book

No frogs on this list - but I'll sure enjoy the beach a lot more if I do the other things first.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Things I Love about Chicago - and Missed Most While in Tucson

  • The lake - if you don't know what lake I mean............ never mind. The best sun rises and moon rises of our lives.

  • Millennium Park - it is always teeming with people, yet it is a good place to lose yourself

  • The weather - if you don't like it, wait 20 minutes and it'll change - spectacular lightning shows over the lake- never boring.

  • The Lincoln Park Zoo - I can spend hours wandering and wondering

  • The CTA - I love the freedom of not needing a car

  • Ethnic food - you name it, we've got it - and we've probably got a neighborhood named to identify it - as Greek Town, Paseo Boriqua, China Town, Little Italy - ad infinitum

  • Chicago's Farmers Markets - I went to the one in Tucson - but somehow tomatoes are only tomatoes here and back east

  • The Chicago Cultural Center - this should be every one's first stop when they visit.

  • Navy Pier - Shakespeare Theater, the Beer Garden, the Ferris Wheel and those yummy sweet and salty nuts - Bloody Marys and bagels and the newspaper on Sunday mornings before the tourists get there - what's not to love?

  • Our home - just enough space - to have company or to be alone. Floor to ceiling views, the sundeck for coffee, sunning, reading or cocktail hour. We can lock it up and leave town AND somebody else cuts the grass, shovels the snow and worries about the roof and the plumbing. We're a train ride away from 3 of our kids. Come on down and visit- we're a three minute walk to the Oak Street Beach.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Things I love about Tucson

  • It's not Phoenix - If I have to explain that to you....never mind!
  • Sabino Canyon - Nature's refuge a short walk away
  • No pot holes - thought our car was running smoother - just no Chicago pot holes
  • U of A -still love visiting the campus and cheering for the 'Cats.
  • Mountains all around - Santa Catalinas, Rincons, Santa Rita, Tucson Mountain ranges

  • Mexican Food - Karichimaka, El Minuto, Paco and Mom - ad infinitum
  • Eileen's of Tucson - made in the USA clothing that fits the not so skinny girl
  • San Xavier Mission - historical yet in use by the Tahono O'Odham tribe for school and church
  • De Grazia Studio - an artist's home and studio that captures the culture and history of Native American life. A great story.
  • Our home - a natural setting with plenty of wildlife and almost no "Wild Life". All that's missing are our kids and the CTA.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Sports, Friends, Connections, Heroes

College Softball: I am sitting in the 107 degree heat in Tucson watching the U of A girls softball team (on TV) playing UCLA (Boo-Hiss) for the world series of college softball. I love the coach Mike Candrea - he has such a visible respect for his players and they respond well to him. No nonsense discipline and solid coaching help these young ladies succeed in softball as well as life. He (and the other college coaches) should probably hire a fitness coach to ward off big butts, bellies and other signs of unhealthy physical profiles. Seems I remember when my girls played softball, they were in much better physical shape with bodies that looked as good in prom gowns as in sports uniforms.

NFL Hockey: I admit it. I love John Mc Donough. My husband is aware of this affair. We both loved John when he was with the Chicago Sting (soccer) and I was the Marketing Director at Pioneer Bank. We have a picture of our daughter Kelly with Pato Majetic in the bank lobby. We watched the S L O W games at the old Cominsky Park and the amazingly fast ones at the Chicago Stadium (indoors). We discovered WeissBier at the Weinkeller after those games.

We loved what he did with the Chicago Cubs and how he made Wrigley Field even more of a destination than it already was. He remained a modest gentleman. I was sad when he left the Cubs to go to the Black Hawks = but Ohhhhh =- what a success story. Butts in the seats is what it's all about and John does that best. He delivered . He addressed our U of A alumni association in Chicago and I was proud to be one if his friends and to be there with him.He's a real class act. I hope Rocky Wirtz gives him a lifetime contract. He deserves it. AND - try and find some "dirt" on him. It doesn't appear to exist. Love you, John.

Back to the Chicago Black Hawks. We have grandsons who are in love with hockey and who will watch the finals with great interest. Back in the day when we were NY Rangers fans, the games ended in April . There were only 6 teams and we breathed it all. Now, I'm glad my kids' kids have adapted to the longer season. I don't breathe it, but I am rooting for the Hawks, the Lady Wildcats and the decent people in sports, like John Mc Donough and Mike Candrea.

As a finale. I want to salute the young father who spent most of his day off today teaching his 6 year old to swim our lap pool. He encouraged, he demonstrated, he asked his son to respect those of us at the pool who were reading. He is a professor at the U of A and the son-in law of one of our neighbors. He was teaching his son swimming, familial loyalty, community manners and social graces. I love him as well. Mas abrazos amigo. We need more heroes like these guys.