Friend or Foe: Reacquainting with the Beast

socs-badgeThis week is the one-year anniversary of Stream of Consciousness Saturday. I’ve loved this weekly prompt, even though I haven’t participated every week. Sometimes, when nothing else can motivate me, I look forward to this prompt to break the logjam of ideas.

This week Linda writes:

As a special feature for February’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday, The Bee and I have decided to collaborate! As you may know, on her site – Just Fooling Around with Bee – a month-long blog-hop is going on in recognition of Love, called “Love Is In Da Blog.” The week 4 prompt is Love in friendship.

Then she adds: Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: acquaint and/or friend.


And now, I write:

I apologize to my male readers in advance, but when I personify something that gives me a lot of grief, I automatically make it male. So the character that I introduce in this post has had a male identity in my mind for the last 20 years. It might be time to revisit that decision, but not today.

Thirty years ago, after the birth of my third child, I realized something was wrong. I don’t know exactly when it happened that I had stopped caring about things, when I started simply going through the motions of getting through the day. But on that particular day, I looked out the window of the living room, and knew that things didn’t add up. If everyone had as lethargic as I did,  no one would be out moving around outside. Yet, when I looked out the window, people WERE moving around.

And at the age of 30, I was diagnosed with  depression. It’s possible that it was part of me before that, but we had not been formally introduced. Since that time, the depression has been a rather consistent companion. I used to believe that if I worked hard enough, I could get him to leave. I saw him as an intruder, a thief who robbed me of happiness and motivation. On quite a few occasions, I’ve convinced myself that I had successfully overcome it, and would congratulate myself on being back to “normal,” but after several times of crashing into the depths again, I knew I needed a different approach.

So after 12 years of battling him as an enemy to be defeated, I named him and accepted his commitment to our relationship. I decided to try to “make friends” with him, or at least negotiate some kind of truce so that we could co-exist. Since The Beast (as I not-so-affectionately name him) is convinced he wants to stay around, I/we established  a few ground rules for our relationship. I agreed to stop trying to evict him, and his bids for attention have become less intense–most of the time.

Interestingly, I can usually put on a good face no matter how I feel, especially if I have an obligation to meet. More often than not, people who see me (especially at work), have no idea that I’m battling The Beast. As a result, people (who do find out) are often surprised to learn I’m dealing with The Beast. For example, during my second year in Taiwan, I had a total knee replacement. When I was meeting with my orthopedic surgeon beforehand, we went over my medications, and he expressed something close to shock: “YOU are being treated for depression?” 

In my role as teacher and mentor, there are times when students are also surprised to find out that I understand depression so intimately. When students come to me with motivation problems or depressive symptoms, I am able to help them, often by simply sharing part of my own story.  They are so surprised to learn that it is something I deal with. In fact, sometimes I recognize symptoms in students before they realize that something isn’t quite right. When I’m able to ask them a few questions, and I see the recognition in their eyes, I don’t mind so much that I’ve spent the time with the Beast. Who would have thought that The Beast was serving me well in this unexpected way?

I don’t think I will ever refer to The Beast as a friend, but I no longer treat him as the enemy. I look for ways to keep most of his drama at bay, so I can still get the things done that need to be done. However, sometimes his cries for attention come at the most inopportune times. When that happens, I try to think of him as a part of me that is missing something that he needs, something that I’m forgetting to give myself. I don’t let him control my life, but I don’t try to pretend he doesn’t exist or ignore his pleas for help. I like to think that this attitude is what has made it easier to get along with The Beast. We’re both a little more understanding.

80 days until 60!

If you’d like to participate in this week’s challenge, here are the links.


If We Were Having Coffee: Year of the Goat Edition

year-of-the-goat-with-icons_23-2147502885I missed the gathering last week, but I’m back today to share what’s been going on lately and all the things that are gearing up to keep me busy.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you:

That the celebration of Chinese New Year is winding down. Each day, a few more businesses are open again and the streets get a bit busier, and by Tuesday, life returns to normal for just about everyone. In the meantime, I’ve been enjoying extra hours at the coffee shop. Tomorrow, Dave and I will go to Taipei to meet friends for lunch.

My new semester begins on Wednesday. Since Chinese New Year fell on almost the last possible day that it COULD fall, we are getting a later than usual going back to school. My new 18 week semester starts on Wednesday.

Two of the Tottori students from the 2013 visit.

Two of the Tottori students from the 2013 visit.

Weeks 2-4 of the semester will be especially exciting and busy. Twenty students from Tottori University in Japan will be visiting our campus for a three-week intensive English program. During that time, I will teach 14 hours of writing each to two groups of ten students from that University. This is in addition to my regular teaching. This is the third year Tottori University has brought students to Ming Chuan University for this program. It’s also the third year that I’ve taught the writing portion. I love the challenge of trying to change students’ attitudes about English writing in the tight time frame. 

admin-ajax.phpSpeaking of teaching, it’s a good thing that I like to use PPT (PowerPoint) presentations, because I was informed by the doctor last week that my shoulder is deteriorating, and that writing on the board is not something I should be doing for the next few weeks. So, we’re managing pain and resting it and using heat. So fun. I guess I’ll look for alternative ways I can torture teach students about writing.

Did I mention that I suspected this doctor is likely younger than my oldest son? Not only that, he had the nerve to tell me This degeneration is due to aging! AGING! Who does he think he’s talking to? I finally asked him at our third encounter how old he was, what do you know — I was right on. He’s the same age as my second son. Geez!

I’m in the final stages of preparing my job application for a job in the US for the 2015-16 academic year. For now, think good thoughts and I’ll tell more when I have more information, and maybe an offer.  🙂

This is an interesting birthday time in our family. My two youngest children, were due two years and a day apart. So their birthday are one week and a day apart, and they were both late! So yesterday (Saturday) was my son, Tom’s birthday. Next Sunday (March 1) is Kate’s. She’s the one who usually tries to talk me into doing some kind of Kate-friendly post for her birthday. We’ll see what happens.  🙂

It’s been great having coffee with you and catching up. Wishing you a great week.

Thanks to Diana for hosting our gathering:

 85 days until 60!

It’s All Relative: SofCS

socs-badgeJust Fooling Around with Bee – a month-long blog-hop is going on in recognition of Love, called Love Is In Da Blog is a month-long blog-hop from Just Fooling Around with Be. The week 3 prompt is Family Love. During February, Linda collaborates to make the Stream of Consciousness prompt cover both events. So here is the prompt for this week’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday: “relative/relativity”. It can pertain to a person, a thing, a theory, or a concept. Play with it and have fun!

Having spent the last 5 1/2 years in a foreign country, the idea  of family has become a blurry concept. Of course, I have my parents, my siblings, my children on the other side of the world. I miss them terribly, and although I’ve visited 4 of the summers during my teaching position in Taiwan, I am eager to return to them next summer. During the last four years, I’ve been blessed to have my husband here with me, but the first two years I lived and worked here, I was on my own.

taiwan-mapStill, I had a few people that I knew (including the one who invited me to consider teaching here), and from those early beginnings, I’ve grown another family here in Taiwan. We may not be officially related, but it hasn’t stopped the friendship and caring that are part of so many relationships I have here. I’m going to share a few of them, but the list is not exhaustive. But you’ll be finding out about some of these (and other) people and the ways they’ve touched my life, as I plan to focus on posting about these people and events as I wind down my time in Taiwan.

In all kinds of ways, big and small, there are people who’ve made me feel like I belong, even though I’m living in a foreign country, where I still can’t speak the language. People are very kind and giving. From the first day, I arrived here, Amy met me at the airport and helped me find a place to live.

Diane and her family were my anchor during the Christmas and New Year holidays. Several times, I was invited to their home over the two years we both lived in Taiwan. When my children were half a world away, I felt privileged that she was willing to let me be part of their family and spend time with their children.

Through Diane’s husband, Erik, I also met Mei-Hung, who has been our adventure lady, both before and after Dave arrived in Taiwan. I have written about some of our adventures, and there are more write-ups to come. She has been such a dear friend over the years here.

When I had my knee surgery in my second year, Jessica C. was the one who came early and stayed through the day with me. Steve and Patrick helped me change apartments just weeks after the surgery.

Mac, the taxi driver, took me under his wing and was as close as a phone-call away. He and his wife invited me to dinner at a Japanese restaurant. Another time, they invited me to their home. After Dave moved here in my third year, he took us to a meal to welcome Dave to Taiwan. On another occasion, he took us to the ceramics museum in Yingee.

I found out that I have a twin brother I didn’t know about. Well, maybe Joe isn’t really my brother, but once we connected as colleagues, we discovered we thought so much alike on so many things that we tell people we are twins who were separated at birth. We are both from the US, but Taiwan is where we finally met.

Mina and I have been good friends even though we have a very small shared vocabulary. Between friends, Google translate, guesswork, and body language, we’ve done quite well over the last three years. I first met her at the coffee shop around the corner, and when she moved to work at another restaurant, I still visit her, even though it’s not nearly often enough.

I am surprised at the things that came out in this post. The people I’ve introduced here are only the beginning of the people who have become my family here in Taiwan. Future posts will mention others and provide some details of the activities and events that we shared. So if you’re part of my Taiwanese family, and you don’t see your name listed above, check back. There’s more to come.



Share Your World 2015 (Week 7)

year-of-the-goat-cartoon_23-2147503522I’ve not been doing too much sharing of my world in the blog lately. But it’s the first day of  the Chinese New Year, and I’m sitting in my office the coffee shop making progress on several projects from my to-do list. As a treat, I thought I’d jump back into this challenge. Hopefully, I’ll stick around for a while, but I can feel things shifting for me. Who’d have thought that Chinese New Year would be such a time of introspection for me. I thought I just did that introspection thing last month.  🙂

Here are Cee’s questions for the week.

041514-sywbannerIs the paper money in your possession right now organized sequentially according to denomination and with the bills right side up and facing the same way?

hahahahahahahahaha! We’re having a good day when all the paper money in my possession is put away into its zippered pouch. But that aside, the paper money in my possession is Taiwanese, and there are only three denominations in regular use. Rumor has it that there is a 2000 NTD note, but I’ve yet to see one in actual circulation.

A 100 NTD note is worth about $3 US (depending on the exchange rate)

A 500 NTD note is worth about $15 US.

A 1000 NTD note is worth about $30 US.

I usually don’t have more than 1000 NTD with me. Most of the time I have a small wad of 100 NTDs. But their arrangement is not that orderly. If they’re folded together in one bunch, that’s about as organized as we get.

What is your favorite type of dog?  (can be anything from a specific breed, a stuffed animal or character in a movie)

My favorite type of dog is my unique little chihuahua. Even though there was a chihuahua in the house when I was younger, that thing would bark up a storm any chance she got, including if a tissue dropped on the floor. Well, maybe not THAT bad, but no one could come near the door. And then it took forever to calm her down again. I didn’t dislike her, but she could get on your nerves sometimes.

I’m usually more of a cat person, and so when we adopted this rescue dog, it was kind of surprising for me to discover how quickly I became attached to her. Anyway, I tease people that she acts more like a cat than a dog. But she NEVER barks; occasionally, she lets out a single growly yelp, but it happens so rarely, it always gets out attention. Maybe that’s her point.  I don’t care too much, because she’s a nice little bundle when she’s curled up in my lap.

If money was not an issue, would you go on a cruise?  If so where would you go?

If money were not an issue, I would definitely go on several cruises. Some for location, some for a theme. The places I most want to cruise would be to Alaska and around New Zealand. Of course, I wouldn’t turn down the Caribbean. In fact, I can’t think of a place I would flat out refuse.

I’d also like to go on a cruise for quilters, where I could hang out for 5-7 days, sewing, learning, sharing, and having fun with other quilters. For that one, we could go anywhere. I would still like to see things, but I would like a few days where any available time could just be used for sewing.

Would you dare to sleep in haunted house overnight?

That depends.  🙂   On two things:

1) What kind of haunted? How serious are we talking here?

2) Whether or not I would have to be alone when I did it.

If it was a place that was reported to have doors opening and closing in the night, sounds, voices, etc., I’d probably do it if there were a good reason. OK, maybe three things:

3) Why? What’s the point? Is there some kind of award or prize?   LOL


If you want to join in the fun, head over to

Chinese New Year’s Eve in Taiwan: Locked in a Coffee Shop

chinese-new-year-2015_23-2147502883Today is Chinese New Year’s Eve. As evening approaches, the majority of businesses, restaurants, and other establishments will close and remain that way tomorrow and even into the following day. Places like schools are off longer. My university, for example, starts back on Wednesday next week. (Technically, the holiday lasts all the way to the 15th day of the new month, concluding with the Lantern Festival.) Now, that doesn’t mean EVERYTHING is closed. But other than the fireworks that will pick up in the next few hours, things will get pretty quiet. Many of the people in this area actually travel south to join their extended family for reunion dinners (on the husband’s side of the family) and then lunch with the wife’s family on the second day.

Now that you know that, I’ll tell you that I’ve spent pretty much the entire day at the coffee shop that I use as my pseudo office during the semester break. Naturally, I was wondering what they were planning for CNY. It turns out, they wanted me to know their plans as well. So through a couple of my students, they conveyed to me that they would close from 5-9 pm on New Year’s Eve for a family dinner. Then they’d reopen at 9 and stay open until their usual closing time at midnight. (We saw in the January New Year here at the coffee shop, so it seemed like a great idea to do it for CNY as well.)

A few days after telling me about the dinner on Wednesday, they posted a sign on the register and had someone translate for me to let me know they were going to go north of Taipei for the day. So they would be closed all day yesterday (Tuesday), but reopen today (Wednesday). They are also going to be open New Year’s Day (Thursday) and on. On Tuesday, while they were closed, my husband and I went to Taipei to meet a friend for dinner and coffee. So not only did we weather their day off well, I’ll be able to come here tomorrow, when most other places will be closed.

So now, back to tonight. I had (almost without thinking) made an assumption that since they decided later to go north yesterday, that they were NOT closing tonight for dinner. But I was wrong. So at 4:50, I had just gotten a new latte when I finally caught on to what was happening, as the last of the other customers were getting ready to leave. I quickly emailed my husband to tell him he should come right away to walk me home, or that I would come myself.

Through the magic of body language and charades, I was able to suggest that I just stay in the corner of the coffee shop and work here while they went upstairs for their dinner. I was half serious and half joking, but what the hell. Then through another kind of magic (smart-phones and translation sites), the owners were able to convey to me that I was, in fact, welcome to stay here while they did the dinner. They closed the shop, put up a sign that they’d reopen later, turned on some music, and I found myself locked in a Taiwanese coffee shop on New Year’s Eve.

Since my husband had packed fruit and veggies for me, and I have a fresh latte, I figure I am good until 9 when they return. At 9, my husband will join me, and we’ll see in the new year at the coffee shop.

As I write this post, I am nearly halfway through the four hours. It’s been productive and relaxing. A nice mix of work and introspection. It’s been a good day, and it promises to be a great beginning to my last Chinese New Year’s celebration in Taiwan.

One Week Later: Building Room (At the Coffee Shop)

Image courtesy of nuttakit /

Image courtesy of nuttakit /

Last week, I rejoined the construction crew in Rome, and helped put the finishing touches on our very own coffee shop. You should stop by for a beverage of your choice. There is quite an extensive menu. It’s nice to take a break along with the other builders.

Speaking of which, it would be great to encourage some new and returning builders to join us. Bradley has put together this wonderful space to help us all build the part of Rome we most want in our lives. It’s a fun way to stay motivated, build community, and inspire each other with ideas and support. Spread the word!

So in terms of my goals for last week, I knew it was ambitious. I knew I would not complete everything, but the challenge was to throw it all out there and push myself to do more than I might have with a more “realistic” list. As you can see, this approach definitely had some benefit. Completed items are crossed out. Items in orange have been moved to this week.

For the week of February 9


  • plan ppts for upcoming Japanese intensive English program
  • set up lessons for first four weeks for writing classes
  • sort papers for comments
  • pull document together for JJE project

Research Presentation

  • set up data collection file for last group
  • set up first round analysis
  • register for May conference


  • Finish CV
  • Write letter of intent
  • Send CVs for review


  • Finish G project
  • Finish current JR section
  • Start JL


  • Two blog posts
  • Go for appt on Friday
  • Catch up on Fast-Forward Fridays
  • Do some sewing for my play date


While several things did not get finished, many things did. With my helper, we got much further on the research data than I had hoped. In addition, my co-presenter needed some materials from me, and I was able to get that put together to send him. Since the main goal was to make a dent in this mountain, I am happy with the progress for the week.

That said, I am reminded that this outside accountability for one’s goals and intentions is really helpful. I like this weekly check-in. That’s also part of the reason why I encourage and invite people to join us above. It doesn’t have to be a big list. Maybe just something you’ve been putting off for a while. Break it down into a few steps, and put the first one on a list for next week. I’ll be there to cheer you on.  🙂

I’m crazily considering doing a long-range plan for the year and posting it in another ongoing challenge. I’ll report in about my experience if/when I take the plunge.

So, on to the new week! I am moving all my incompletes from last week to this week and adding a few more things. This is my last full week before the new semester begins, so there is lots of impetus to press on. See you in Rome!


For the week of February 16


  • plan ppts for upcoming Japanese intensive English program
  • set up lessons for first four weeks for writing classes
  • write comments for JJE project
  • review thesis draft for TC
  • finish textbook answer key

Research Presentation

  • set up first round analysis
  • prepare ppt slides of first round of analysis
  • register for May conference


  • Write letter of intent
  • Send CV and letter for review
  • Prepare reference information
  • Submit main job app
  • Travel web-site


  • Finish G project
  • Start next section JR (20-26)
  • Write questions for JL
  • Meet with JL


  • Two more blog posts
  • Catch up on Fast-Forward Fridays
  • Do some sewing for my play date

Best of luck in whatever the week brings your way!



This ongoing challenge to keep people focused on weekly goals and projects provides both the method and the support to keep participants going. You can check it out here: Bradley Corbett at:

Coffee, Quilts, and other things that go “K” in the night

year-of-the-goat-with-icons_23-2147502885Tomorrow is Chinese New Year’s Eve. For the first time in my six years here, we will spend most of the evening in Taipei. We are meeting our friend Joe in Taipei at 3:30 for coffee, discussion of a paper I’m helping him with, and dinner. I should say I’ll be doing the coffee and paper discussion part. Dave will wander around that part of Taipei and join us for the dinner portion of the afternoon/evening. To start the festivities, Dave and I will catch a bus from our neighborhood about 2:30 to go to the nearest MRT station that will take us to the Taipei station where we’ll meet Joe.

As most of you know, I have just over a week of semester break left. Once the Chinese New Year holiday is past, we will gear up for back to school. You may also know that during the break from classes, I’ve been putting in most of my “working hours” at a coffee shop about a half mile from our apartment. I do it because it takes care of a variety of goals and objectives in one fell swoop. Or at least on a regular basis without having to put a lot of time and thought into it. For example, my nearly daily trip to the coffee shop does at least four things for me.

  1. 100_0697It keeps me focused on my work without overtaking my home life.
  2. I get exercise walking here and walking home.
  3. I get great coffee!  ❤
  4. I have an interesting social group here, even though we don’t speak the same language.

OK, now you may wonder what the connection is among all of these seemingly isolated pieces of information. Particularly, how does quilting fit into it? (Coffee fits in with everything. Am I right?)

Any other day, if I were leaving for Taipei at 2:30 in the afternoon, I’d come to the coffee shop when they open and work for a few hours and drink coffee. But . . . . .


Whatever will I do? Luckily, they will be open the following day, New Year’s Day proper. So I can’t fault them too much. They are, after all, only taking one day, when many places can take up to a week or more. For example, the neighborhood near campus will be quite quiet tomorrow.

mystery quilt fabricSo I decided that since they’re having their day off tomorrow, I’ll stay home and do something else that doesn’t contaminate my home space with work. I’m going to work on some quilting projects. Sure I could work on other stuff, but guess what? I’m not going to. I’m giving myself this gift of time.

The reality is I’m coming to terms with the fact that I can never really catch up. That I’m going to have to rethink my commitments and obligations, so that I can rearrange my life accordingly. In the meantime, I can have a nice chunk of sewing time tomorrow. I’ll be sharing some of the results of tomorrow’s escapades here. I actually feel more excitement than I have in a while. I think it’s a good sign.


91 days until 60. 

Re-attaching to Stream of Consciousness Saturday

socs-badgeI haven’t done Stream of Consciousness Saturday in a while. But I really like the prompt for this week. And what’s even more interesting is there’s a collaboration in the works to go along with another blog challenge: “Love Is In Da Blog.”

The week 2 prompt for Love Is In Da Blog is: lovers, spouses and significant others.

Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: attach/attachment. It can be about love or anything else!

Thinking about attachment has brought to mind some interesting ideas that aren’t necessarily related, so stream of consciousness works pretty well. Maybe I can even get these various ideas about attachment to attach in some way.

I’m in the midst of going through the things that have collected in my apartment here in Taiwan over the last six years. Of course, keep in mind, I have moved once since arriving in Taiwan. The first apartment a year and a half, and the second for 4 years. To think that when I came here in August of 2009, I came with two suitcases. Everything I had with me in Asia could fit in the trunk of a car. And even though I didn’t really go too that first year and a half, moving to the second apartment wasn’t bad, but it took at least half a dozen carloads to get me settled. Luckily, the two apartments were only a mile apart.

Two interesting things happened after I moved to this apartment. First, a friend of mine and her family moved from Taiwan to mainland China, and in the process, I inherited a lot of amazing things. A couple radiator heaters for starters –which have come in VERY handy during our winters with no central heating. Lots of kitchen items, bedding, and a Christmas tree that I’ve used every year since they’ve been gone. (The two years prior to their departure, I spent Christmas with them, so the tree has been very special to me.) I’m not so attached that it can’t move on. It already has a new home for next year. (I hope to post about that in another post.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe second thing that happened is that my husband moved into the second apartment, about 6 months after I moved. We can back from the US in the summer of 2011 with four suitcases. After all, now that the idea was we’d be staying indefinitely, and not the original one or two years that was part of the initial plan, it made sense to settle in a bit. I moved quilting fabric and books. That was the crazy thing I told myself — if I was going to stay beyond year two, I had to have a hobby around and not get so caught up in working so much. (Yeah, that worked out real well.)  😉 

And as if I don’t have enough trouble getting attached to stuff, my husband settled into his browsing and collecting ways. Don’t get me wrong. He finds great stuff, and we’ve had a great time in this apartment. But the amount of stuff that I’ve accumulated despite knowing this would ultimately be temporary is a little frightening. Certainly we can’t take this all back to the US, nor would I want to. I’m hoping that my return to the US will keep me more focused on what I really want to be doing with my time, and that the things that I have in my life will contribute to that time commitment. But the sorting and purging process is going to take a while. Which is why I’m doing the Fast-Forward Fridays challenge thing now. But it’s only the beginning of the weeding out process and detaching from our home here to set up our new home back in the US.

However, there is something we won’t be leaving behind. We’ve become pretty attached to our dog, “Puppy.” She will be taking a trip to have life on the other side of the world.

But the biggest attachment I’ve found in Taiwan are the people. Students, colleagues, neighbors, local business owners, regulars at the coffee shop. I have a twinge of regret sometimes at the decision to leave Taiwan. Over these six years, when I went back and forth between Asia and North America, it was always hard to leave one, when going to the other. But I had the intention of returning. I had a return ticket in hand. This time, there is no return ticket to Taiwan. Not that I won’t return — there are a couple of events in the future that I hope to return for. And I will still have connections through email, Facebook, and Line.

wp_20150130_009With all of this attachment stuff coinciding with Valentine’s day and the Love Is In Da Blog, it’s really become clear in the last few weeks how my attachment to my husband has grown during our time here. He did not join me in Taiwan until my third year (and second apartment). And while we’ve always enjoyed each other’s company and been supportive of each other, there is something about being in a foreign country together that forges an even stronger bond. At least that’s how I’ve felt. I think those first two years of separation while we decided about staying longer term also helped with that.

People notice our connection. When I go to the coffee shop, he walks me there, and comes back at a prearranged departure time to walk me home.Even people with limited English have learned expressions like, “So sweet.” Students make similar comments because they see him come to school with me on most of my teaching days. They see him bring me coffee and come and walk me back to my office.It’s those people attachments that are the most important, and that makes letting go of the material attachments much easier to do.

I’m looking forward to meeting new people, in the new chapter of our life that is beginning shortly. And I’m glad to have all you readers along for the journey. I feel pretty attached to you, too.  🙂

Thanks to Linda and Bee for this collaborative effort. Check them out!

February Follies (aka Fast-Forward Fridays)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe best laid plans of mice and men. Except I can’t blame mice or men in this case. I can’t even blame the clutter cats. They’re only mascots, after all. I can only blame myself. For this crazy challenge.

Design your own challenge, I said. Set up your own steps, I said. It’s only four weeks, I said. You can compete with yourself, I said. It will be fun, I said.

OK, enough ranting. 🙂  It’s really not that bad. And I still believe most of those things, except the one about four weeks. There are only two left.

The reality is I fell off the Fast-Forward-Friday express. On the left, you can see one example. Fabric sorting did not happen last week.  In fact, most of my decluttering challenge seemed to have died in the water this week. But have no fear. I have a plan. And I have something else — perseverance.

But one thing I have known since before starting this (rather ambitious) challenge is that no matter how well thought-out plans and ideas are, unexpected events always interrupt the “ideal” plan. But the one thing that I’ve put into practice in the last 18 months that’s helped more than anything is perseverance.

So just like any other plan or project, there were some glitches in this system. In this particular case, I wasn’t expecting two extra doctor appointments this week (with accompanying bus trips). Nor was I expecting to have to adjust what I can do physically. But, that’s life. Things don’t ever always go according to plan. On the good news side, I did make a lot of progress on work-related tasks.

Before I made a practice of perseverance, I would sort of let things go. I would call the challenge a good try, but it “just wasn’t meant to be,” at least not this month. But I’m determined not to give in to that cycle. I can persevere by doing one simple thing: pick up where I left off and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

As you can see in the list below, I have a lot of fancy footwork to do to catch-up, but rather than defeating myself with my attitude, I’m going to see just how much I can catch up. If I don’t make it all the way, I will still be much closer on celebration day (February 28) than I’d be if I gave up now.

So here is the 2nd Friday update (a little late):

List of Daily Tasks
  • (green – on-time completions for week 1;
  • purple – early completions;
  • blue – on-time completions for week 2;
  • red – missed items – scheduled for catch-up)

    Clutter Cats

    Clutter Cats

    • 2 – Middle shelf
    • 3 – Lower Shelf
    • 4 – First Metal Drawer
    • 5 – Second Metal Drawer
    • 6 – Three wood drawers (FRIDAY)
    • 7 – Hanging Clothes
    • 8 – Printer Cabinet (2 shelves)
    • 9 – Printer Cabinet (other 2 shelves)
    • 10 – 2 bookshelves
    • 11 – 2 bookshelves
    • 12 – 2 bookshelves
    • 13 – 2 bookshelves  (FRIDAY)
    • 14 – Fabric
    • 15 – Other quilting and craft supplies
    • 16 – black ottoman

By persevering, I can keep my spirits high and just continue on. Getting upset with myself for not keeping up is not productive. That frame of mind would only serve to give me a “reasonable excuse” to explain away my lack of progress. Perseverance helps me to continue on, even though the results may not be exactly what I hoped for. But who knows? Just as setbacks are often the result of when things don’t go according to plan, sometimes unexpected breakthroughs can also come. So I’m going for progress.

I’ve also made some really significant discoveries about myself, but that’s for another post. See you in a few days with another update. Anyone else?

92 days until 60!


Building Rome: At the Coffee Shop

janfricoffeeI’ve been away from the Building Room project for several weeks months, but I’ve returned because: 1) I miss all my fellow builders and 2) I need a kick in the seat of my pants to get back on schedule. For some reason, when I post things here, I stand a better chance. So I’m back.

I did make sure that one item now stands in Rome: a coffee and tea shop. When I need a break from building, here it is. It’s a nice place with lots of lovely drink options. I invite anyone to stop by when the building gets to be a bit overwhelming.

Even though this post would typically start with how I did on last week’s goals, it seems kind of pointless to go back and talk about goals from August and September. So I’m just going to jump in with making a list of several things that have been stalling out on my to-do list. After all, some of them will obtain crisis status within a few weeks if I don’t get back on track.

Most of these are work related, either for my current job or upcoming work. But I’m including a couple of play and relaxation things as well. Take a deep breath, because the list will seem huge. And I realize that it may be too ambitious for the time I have. But I’m trying to give myself a jump start.

In other words, while I don’t really expect to get everything on this list done in a week, I’m thinking that I’ll get more done by upping the ante a bit. It becomes a game–a version of “Beat the Clock,” which seems to get me going sometimes. It’s my competitive nature.  Or my insanity, but I’m not taking a poll. My apologies to those of you who wanted to vote.

In addition, I have a student coming to help me with some of the research tasks. In addition, having her there will keep me more focused in general. Setting a good example and all that.  😉


  • plan ppts for upcoming Japanese intensive English program
  • set up lessons for first four weeks for writing classes
  • sort papers for comments
  • pull document together for JJE project

Research Presentation

  • set up data collection file for last groups
  • set up first round analysis
  • register for May conference


  • Finish CV
  • Write letter of intent
  • Send CVs for review


  • Finish G project
  • Finish current JR section
  • Start JL


  • Two blog posts
  • Go for appt on Friday
  • Catch up on Fast-Forward Fridays
  • Do some sewing for my play date

Yeah, I told you it was big. Maybe next week’s list will be a little calmer. We won’t have a poll on that either, but if you’re curious about what happens, tune in next week.

 This ongoing challenge to keep people focused on weekly goals and projects provides both the method and the support to keep participants going. You can check it out here: Bradley Corbett at:


97 days until 60!