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It is a very strange sensation when the frogs bite back.

Eating a frog for breakfast every now and then (so that nothing worse will happen to you that day) is a good practice. By tackling and completing (or just making progress on) an avoided a delayed issue first thing in the day, you feel a sense of satisfaction and I-can-do-anything empowerment. That feeling can fire you up for the rest of the day.

A lot of the 500-pound gorillas in the room are really just puffed-up frogs. I never believe that even though I know it to be a fact.

So, when I walked into the meeting and saw the 500-pound gorilla trying to hide in the corner, looking at me with sorry eyes (they usually avoid eye contact) I knew there was going to be some frogs involved. And frogs do bite.

The 50-pound gorilla began to shrink the moment they began speaking. In less than 5 minutes it was small enough to flutter-kick my chest. Eliminating the job I held was sadly necessary as the company moved forward with its plans. Best of luck wishes, etc., etc.

The frog and I left the room. A 72-hour truce was declared between us, but the frog knew his days were numbered.

This is the best possible time for me to try new avenues of employment. I have no small children at home that need new clothes, trips to the pediatrician, medicines, and an inordinate amount of food. I am in good health. I am not dead, yet. There’s plenty of time to try one (or more!) places to explore and things to learn and do. Maybe I’ll find one that’ll even pay me so I can finish paying the blasted tooth fairy!

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This frog was so old (how old was it?) that it almost qualified for Medicare.

Really.

Ten years ago I took over the family newsletter. It went out twice a year and helped keep the various branches in touch with news, photos, and annual Family Week dates at Wind Hill Farm. Up until last winter I did a pretty darn good job with it, if I say so myself.

Debo (oh, how she is missed!) sent out reminders to family to send in news for it and followed up with people she knew had extras to share/brag. She would distill Christmas letters and cull e-mails before sending the material on to me. I would research the web for additional info and photos on musician CDs, authors in print (hardcover books, magazines, and e-zines). If I heard of an award someone got, I made sure it was included. When the youngest went kite sailing over the pole, I made sure I captured details from their blog for the newsletter. Debos photos, and my few additions from Family Week events, were liberally salted into each newsletter. With the help of core family members, names were added to each photo to help us get to know each other even when we couldn’t get together. Whenever I had a question on whether to include something or not, or whether tactful editing was needed, Debo always handled it, providing guidance and insight.

Not having her nearby support in a time of extreme work overload totally crashed me. I was, and am, very proud of those newsletters. But I wasn’t keeping up.

I missed the winter edition. I missed the summer edition. I had copy. I had photos. I did not have time or a brain to work with.

The family did not criticize or harass me—they didn’t need to because I was doing a spectacular job kicking myself by myself! Instead, they thanked me for my years of work and asked if I wanted help or was I willing to let someone else take it over?

There is something to be said for stepping down and letting someone new contribute. I hope Peter enjoys his new role in the family. He accepted it in early August, but I only just today got the files burned to disk and got them off in the mail* to him with a sketchy overview of the process I had been following.

So… almost a nine-month-old frog for brunch today. I am looking forward to fresher frogs in the future.

*Yes, as a matter of fact the rest of today was marvelous! I took a lovely walk with the puppies, browsed the gazillion yard sales that today’s awesome weather spawned (only spent $20 total over all of them but we won’t talk about that), went to the Western Avenue Open Studios and saw lots of great art in all sorts of media (succumbed to the allure of another hank of delicious yarn), trimmed another large section of the wildly overgrown and neglected hedges, talked with BOTH my kids on the phone, and sorted out a foot-and-a-half tall pile of papers on a chair by my desk.

Big rocks are often lost under mountains of frogs. Being obscured, but always paramount in importance, it is easy to think we are devoting more time and attention to them than we actually are.

When my son was in high school he was required to make a ‘Time Pie’ by taking all the parts of his day (sleeping, eating, school, sports, home, hobbies, etc.) and allocating the proportion of time he thought he was giving each.

Although the pie was a single piece, the hours he allocated to each part did not add up to 24 hours or 100%. We looked at it together and I saw why. The things most important to him were allocated large chunks of the pie but in reality, they represented smaller pieces of his real time. He was disgusted to find that he spent far less time on homework and chores than he thought he did, and considerably more in sports and sleeping than he thought possible.

Hmmm… I did my own. First I thought about the parts of life most important to me, then I went through a typical day to see how it matched up with how I spent my days.

Ouch.

I have spent far less time cleaning and dusting my house since that moment. When my daughter gifted me with 3 months of voice lessons, I made time for them as long as I could. That thoughtful gift was a joy and a delight I plan to do again someday. I say ‘thank you’ to the cook(s). I pass on overheard compliments to the person they applied to.

Because I can be dense, thoughtless, clueless, and generally oblivious to time, I have set up with regular calendar reminders  to mail cards for no reason, and to call and check in on someone I haven’t heard from in a while, even when I know it means over an hour of time and a sore ear after. Knitting hearts and flowers for unwell, far away family and friends gives me pleasure, as well. Sharing tangible tokens of appreciation and affection means a lot when I get them, so I figure others will like them, too.

These things are my Big Rocks; the parts of my life that give it meaning.  I work at putting those Big Rocks in first because once you fill up your time with a zillion little things (each has value, yes, but how much value?), you cannot fit in any of the important things, the Big Rocks.

Some frogs can be Big Rocks, but mostly they’re not. Big Rocks outscore frogs.

The wall plant stand had a years’ accumulation of dust, dirt, and dead plants among the living. Removing everything, tossing the dead ones (“we don’t take da dead ones” was a line from a long-forgotten play), wiping the dusty leaves, soaking the dried-out-but-still-living plants, washing the shelves, and finally reassembling everything took a fair bit of time. But it was easy work, done with the TV on for distraction, so I felt guilty.

It wasn’t enough. Hardly qualified as a frog, you know? I mean, just because it took *for-EV-er* to get to it, it wasn’t one of the elephants in the room I was pretending wasn’t there.

So I vacuumed the room. Honestly, that *did* qualify as a frog.

Our puppies do not shed much. One doesn’t shed AT ALL, while the other only does a moderate shedding before summer. What they excel in is bringing the great outdoors inside on their paws and clinging to their muzzles and coats. They track in sand, leaves, grass clippings, and twigs in prodigious quantities. They killed our Roomba which tried valiantly to keep up. Miss a day or two and the accumulation is noticeable. Miss a week or more (we do) and the debris begins to swirl about our feet as we cross the room.

FlyLady says to just do the middle regularly and only once a month suck up the edges and under tables, sofas, etc. In our puppy kingdom, if (if? HA!) we miss the ‘regularly’ part, the vacuum bag can get filled beyond capacity in only a round or two. Of course, if we do the regular thing, we still fill up the bag with the same amount of dirt and debris in about the same amount of time, but it feels worse because we only ran the vacuum twice for pete’s sake!

This also took a lot longer than the plant stand (actually, the plant stand is a bakers shelf thing which I love for the house plants). I was sweaty and dirty at the end, but I could walk barefoot through the room without getting crud on my feet. The sofa was once again a place I could sit without having to brush off sand and dirt from the puppies before planting my tush.

Now, these were indeed worthwhile activities with tangible results. They were not, however, remotely related to the elephants in the room which were the really BIG frogs I need to eat (and soon!).

One has to start somewhere, I say. I can accomplish a great deal when I am avoiding doing something else!

*see previous post

Eat a frog first thing every day…
and nothing worse can happen to you the rest of the day

This philosophy reinforces the concept of “Do it now” and “Get it over with” for chronic procrastinators. Pick your most avoided task and tackle it first. FlyLady is right. It usually isn’t as bad as you thought and probably won’t take anywhere near as long as you thought to get it done and over with.

Except…

My choices of procrastinated, put off, hard-to-think-about overdue items are both many and varied. They could easily provide me with a solid diet of frogs for breakfast for weeks.

Now, that is a daunting visual.

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