Turn It Off


Turn off the television, radio and disconnect from social media. There’s so many better ways to spend your time.

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Time spent outdoors is always well spent.
  • Read a book or magazine. 
  • Exercise.
  • Take a walk or hike.
  • Bake a cake.
  • Be crafty.
  • Play a game.
  • Take a nap.
  • Write a letter or note and actually mail it.
  • Take a bubble bath.
  • Organize your photos…both physical and digital photos.
  • Listen to music.
  • Watch a movie.
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The best thing about baking a cake…eating it!

It’s hard to believe there was a time when news was relegated to a couple of hours a day. The morning started with the local newspaper retrieved from the front porch and twelve hours later we were watching Walter Cronkite deliver the evening news in thirty minutes. It was a nightly ritual. Then in 1980 everything changed. Walter Cronkite announced his impending retirement and CNN started broadcasting news 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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It’s game time!

In order to attract viewers, news had to be sensationalized. After all, the goal was no longer to fill one thirty minute newscast, but 48 of these thirty minutes time slots. Breaking news. Breathless reporters. Interviews by telephone from eye witnesses. And in the quest to be the first to report, anything goes.

My first experience with this around the clock reporting was with the attempted assassination of President Reagan with the same footage cycled for hours, speculation about who was responsible and why, talking heads explaining the succession to the presidency, and worst of all, the erroneous reporting of the death of James Brady, White House Press Secretary. Other big stories like the Oklahoma City bombing and the World Trade Center attack warranted significant coverage, but most days stories that are barely newsworthy are magnified into major events…car chases, the O.J. Simpson trial, missing persons and celebrity gossip.

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So many books. So little time.

Worst of all, political campaigns and legislative shenanigans have become unbearable due to this emphasis on non-news, and we don’t just have to deal with CNN, but HLN, Fox News, MSNBC, and dozens of other 24/7 news outlets.

And it’s not just television, but talk radio full of one made up crisis after another. Everything’s overblown and scary requiring outrage. We now live in a country filled with angry, anxious, enraged people who feel they are under attack.

Unfortunately, we as individuals have created this paranoia as much as has the media. Facebook, Twitter and other social media which were once seen as ways for people to stay connected with one another have instead served as personal outlets of rage. Social media can be a friendly place for baby animal cams, but it’s more often a platform for bullying.

Is it even possible to get a closet full of photos organized?
Is it even possible to get a closet full of photos organized?

With this said, I’ve reverted to pre 1980…a morning paper, a 30 minute nightly newscast, no Facebook, no Twitter. It’s time to turn it off.

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If you decide to join me and take a break from Facebook and Twitter, don’t forget to sign up for email notifications from Mom’s Monday Memo (on the right hand side of this page or scroll to the bottom of the page if viewing on a mobile device). You’ll receive an email when new blog posts are published. 

 

VOTE NO ON 1

Early voting started this morning, and in just a few hours I’m going to mark my ballot and put this election behind me. While the Presidential election has consumed social media as well as radio and television, there are plenty of other races and issues that need our attention.

When I accessed a sample ballot on the website of the Marion County Supervisor of Elections, I admit that I found a couple of surprises. I was prepared to vote for U.S. Senator and U.S. Representative. I’ve researched the candidates for State Representative and Senator as well as Sheriff, Clerk of the Court and County Commissioner, but I’m in the dark when it comes to Soil and Water Conservation Seat…and this is important. Even Google failed to provide much information on the individuals seeking these positions. So much for an informed voter.

Did you know there are four Constitutional Amendments on the Florida ballot this year?

Amendment 1: Rights of Electricity Consumers Regarding Solar Energy Choice – This sounds like something every Floridian should support, BUT DON’T BE FOOLED. You may have seen the ads on TV touting this as a way to protect consumers’ energy choices, but Florida Supreme Court Justice Barbara Pariente described this best as “a wolf in sheep’s clothing.” The first clue that this is not in the best interest of consumers is the fact that it is financed by Florida Power and Light, Duke Energy, Tampa Electric Co., Gulf Power, Exxon Mobile and the Koch Brothers. Their interest in solar power…money. They don’t want to lose consumers to solar and they certainly don’t want consumers to be able to sell the extra power they generate to neighbors or to the power companies. Instead, they’d want to just take any surplus and then profit from it. I can’t say this enough, don’t get fooled and VOTE NO ON AMENDMENT 1.

Amendments 2, 3 and 5 should also be researched prior to going to the polls. There is a lot of information on Amendment 2 regarding medical marijuana with plenty of pros and cons, but this isn’t really a tricky one, just something you need to decide which position you wish to support.

The big surprise for me was that there are two additional amendments on the ballot. Both of these relate to the reduction of property taxes for special groups of taxpayers. They both sound good, but remember, the more property owners eliminated from the tax rolls, the more tax required by the rest of us.

Meghan reminded me of the advice given by Scott Maxwell, columnist for the Orlando Sentinel: If an amendment is confusing or if you are just unsure: VOTE NO! If it’s really an important, the issue can appear of a future ballot. There’s no reason to add amendments to our state constitution just because it might be okay. This is good advice…be skeptical of all constitutional amendments. Vote No unless you are absolutely sure and as for Amendment 1 – Vote No!

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Keep an eye on Matthew

I hoped this year would be the one year I wouldn’t write a post about hurricane preparation, but as the path of Hurricane Matthew moves the storm closer to Florida and the southeast United States, it’s time for another reminder to watch the news and make some preparations. So here’s a quick list:

1) Fill your cars with gas.
2) Make sure you have plenty of water. You might want to freeze some bottles in case you lose power.
3) Charge your electronics.
4) Check propane tanks for your grill and/or camp stove.
5) Check the batteries in flashlights and radio.
6) Go to the ATM and get some cash.
7) Stock your shelves with enough food requiring little preparation. (Enough for about three days.)
8) Watch the weather forecast daily to determine if additional preparation is needed, especially in securing your home and planning for pets.

The effects of Hurricane Matthew are only a couple of days away so it’s time to plan (see It’s Hurricane Season…It’s Time to Prepare from 2013 or the website of American Red Cross for more tips).

Stay safe and keep an eye on Matthew!

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Choose a Name Carefully

A couple of weeks ago I listened to a story on the radio about the number of parents who regret the name they’ve given their child. Sources cited indicate that between 11% and 18% of parents are unhappy with their choice of a name and that 4% of parents actually change the name of their child.

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At first I thought four percent seemed too high, but what’s considered a name change isn’t exactly what I was thinking…lawyers, legal documents, court decrees. Instead, using a nickname, a middle name, or initials was considered a name change as well. That still seems like a lot of name regret.

So what causes name regret? Names that are difficult to pronounce, very unusual, too common, or just don’t fit the personality of the child. Mothers that were interviewed expressed doubts about the names they’d bestowed on their offspring: a boy named Harper (in the top 20 names for girls), Zoey (a top 10 name for dogs), Evelia (a name hated by the child as she tries to teach others to pronounce it), Andrew (didn’t fit the child that looked like his dad Vinny), Danielle (too popular), Tennessee (too different).

I know I gave my brother and sister-in-law a hard time about not naming their youngest son immediately. After all, they’d had nine months to figure this out, but they were looking for the name that fit. They wanted to meet him before assigning a name, and it was a smart move…no regrets.

So after all this discussion about names, it’s not baby names that I’m really concerned about. It’s grandparent names. For seven months I’ve been tasked with coming up with a new name for myself. I know Grandma was the first choice, but as far as I’m concerned that name has already been taken. My Mom IS Grandma, and as a child, I had a Grandma and two Great-Grandmas. That name doesn’t fit. Granny doesn’t fit either. John’s Mom WAS Granny, and I had a Granny and two great grandmothers I called Granny, so that name has been taken as well. I needed to come up with a name that’s me.

Others have given advice:

Make sure you think about how the name will sound when your grandchildren are teenagers or adults. The cute name a baby calls you may not sound as cute when uttered from a six foot, two inch man.

Make sure your grandchildren call you GG. It stands for Gorgeous Grandmother. It’s perfect, and don’t answer to any other name.

Don’t worry about choosing a name. Let your grandchildren call you whatever they choose. It’s more meaningful.

Have fun! Be creative!

Well after all these months and trying out Nana, Mimi, Oma, and many others from the lists of grandparent names available online. I’ve decided on DeeDee…it’s a name on the grandparent name lists. It’s not that creative, but it’s me. I’ll recognize my name right away. And when I hear children calling Grandma or Granny I won’t be looking around for someone else like a fool.

DeeDee, Emily and Grace, Grandma
DeeDee, Emily and Grace, Grandma

Yes, I’ve heard DeeDee is a crazy character on Modern Family, and I’ve been told it may sound too much like I’m just being called by my name. But, that’s ok. DeeDee is who I am, and best of all, if I have naming regrets in a month or year…I can just change it!

Names are important so choose a name carefully.

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Embrace Change

Check out my new blog: Empty Nest Full Suitcase

In November of 2012, I wrote and posted my first blog on Mom’s Monday Memo with a piece of advice to my adult daughters. For over three years I’ve written and posted almost everyday sharing poetry, photos, recipes, travel ideas and other random thoughts.

Thank you for following Mom's Monday Memo!
Thank you for following Mom’s Monday Memo!

Today is the last day I’ll be posting to this blog.

That doesn’t mean I plan to stop writing or blogging. It just means that it’s time for a change. I’m going to put Mom’s Monday Memo to rest as I start a new blog. This time with some help (at least occasionally) from my better half, since the new blog will focus on travel.

John and I will be writing and photographing our travels including:

  • biking and hiking trails
  • water adventures
  • camping
  • daycations
  • sports, festivals and special events

We’ll be writing about our adventures around the state of Florida as well as in other of the 50 states as well as documenting trips in Canada and even farther as we plan for trips to Iceland, the Netherlands and Toronto later this year.

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Backpack suitcase and hiking sticks – the logo for the new blog Empty Nest Full Suitcase

I hope you’ll check out the new blog Empty Nest Full Suitcase. You’ll find it at EmptyNestFullSuitcase.com and you’ll also find several of the travel related posts from Mom’s Monday Memo on the new site since I’ve been preparing for the launch for the last couple of weeks.

Please leave comments with feedback or suggestions so we can make this new writing adventure even better.

Change is good. Even the calendar changes every four years by inserting an extra day. Embrace change.

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Get Control of Your Email

It’s easy to let your email inbox get the best of you. Anyone with an email address can easily receive dozens of messages a day and with a work account and junk mail included, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by a hundred or more emails per day.

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We’ve all seen images of inboxes with hundreds or thousands of unread messages, and you may even know someone who’s snowed under with unread email. Hopefully, you’re not in that situation, but if you are, now is the time to regain control.

 

Last week I suggested that you empty your home of excess by taking part in the 40 bags in 40 days challenge. Emptying your email can be part of this challenge. While you won’t need any physical bags to clean your inbox, you’ll need time and an organizational system.

First, set up a few folders to move emails you may want to find at a later day. Maybe something like these:

  • Financial Info
  • Orders
  • Reservations
  • Family
  • Personal

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Then start cleaning out unopened messages.

  • Delete everything more than 30 days old. If you haven’t read it in 30 days, it can’t be that important so just select these messages and DELETE in mass.
  • Now open, read, file or delete the remaining messages.
  • Repeat this process daily so that at the end of the day no messages remain in your inbox.

An empty inbox and the mail icon on your phone without a number screaming at you to check your email is a great stress reliever since you won’t be worried about missing or losing important messages.

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Open, read, organize and most of all get control of your email.

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Take the Liquid Stuff

Every year I preach the importance of getting the flu shot, but I’ve paid the price for not following my own advice. Teaching always insured I’d receive a reminder when the flu shot was available as well as a date when I could schedule an appointment for the free shot at my workplace. Not this year. No reminder. No appointment. No flu shot. Instead, four days of fever, chills, headache, sneezing, running nose and cough. Yuck!

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Wrapped in blankets in bed, on the couch and finally sitting on the porch, I wasted too much time popping pills to relieve flu symptoms.

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Finally, I decided to get serious. Only by gulping the nasty stuff can you kick the nasty stuff!

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Hopefully, you were smart enough to get the flu shot, but if not take the liquid stuff.

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Making Space for God: 40 Bags in 40 Days

This Wednesday, Ash Wednesday, is the first day of the season of Lent.

What is Lent? Lent is a season of the Christian Year where Christians focus on simple living, prayer, and fasting in order to grow closer to God. ~UpperRoom.org

Growing up, I associated giving things up for Lent as something my friends who went to the Catholic Church did each year. I learned about Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and the season of Lent as a time of preparation for Easter, but the idea of giving up something for Lent was a foreign concept. I only grew more confused when as a teen my friends stopped eating pizza or drinking soda or eating chocolate during Lent. What was the relationship between these foods and Lent?

Over the years, I’ve come to recognize there is more to this season of Lent. As a time of self-reflection, each of us has a very personal way in which we can focus on God. So maybe giving up some well-loved food can have meaning if prayer or some other God centered activity occurs in place of that food; but I don’t see this as a way for me.

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Last year I decided to seriously look for a way to participate in Lent, and I found an article by Phil Ressler, 40 Things to Give Up for Lent: The List. The list included great ideas like over-commitment, apathy, negativity, complaint and distraction. But before I settled on one of those, a friend posted a link suggesting de-cluttering as a challenge for Lent. I knew immediately that participating in the 40 Bags in 40 Days challenge was what I needed to do to observe Lent. Each day I would focus on one space to eliminate stuff that was no longer serving any useful purpose. And while some of the bags contained items to be hauled off to the landfill or the shredder, many more bags were filled with items to be given to others. Bags of clothing, shoes, dishes, cooking utensils, books, games, and sporting goods were donated to our church’s Tuesday Morning ministry, the Ocklawaha United Methodist Church’s Thrift Store, the Friends of the Library and Goodwill. Every drawer, closet and cabinet was emptied as part of this process. Only those things that were being used and needed were kept. The cars’ glove compartments and trunks contributed to the 40 bags. The more items we bagged, the more we found to give away. Way more than forty bags…a trailer full of furniture for newlyweds, a bookcase for a classroom and another for a nursery and furniture for a nephew’s first apartment.

Luke 12:15 “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed: a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

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Filling 40 bags in 40 days may seem simply like a new name for spring cleaning, a way to get rid of the excess, the unused and unwanted; but to be honest the excess distracts from our relationship with God. Lent is not just about giving up something; it’s about doing something…something to make space for God. Discarded items serve as reminders to be less materialistic and more generous. The act of de-cluttering is good for the soul. It creates space in your home. Space in your mind. Space in your heart. Space for reflection.

This year, I’ll fill another 40 bags in the 40 days of Lent to make more space and look for ways the excess in my life can be a blessing to others. It’s a small start, but it’s a start.

Make space for God: 40 Bags in 40 Days

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Today when I finished writing, I picked up my phone and clicked on Twitter to find the following:

2/4/16 tweet from Pope Francis @Pontifex: God wants to live amidst his sons and daughters. Let us make space for him in our hearts.

Prepare to Vote

You’d have to be living in a cave to not know the Presidential Primaries begin today. The year 2016 is truly an election year with the Presidential preference, municipal elections, primaries and a general election on the calendar. It’s time to prepare for the upcoming elections.

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First, check your registration status. This can easily be accomplished by going to your county’s supervisor of elections website. If you need to change your address or party affiliation, you can do it online. However, name changes require a visit to the office so don’t delay if you haven’t changed your name on your voter registration. February 16 is the deadline (in Florida) for making changes before the Presidential primary.

Second, know the dates of upcoming elections. In Florida:

3/15 Presidential Preference as well as some municipal elections

8/30 Primaries

11/8 General Election

In addition, there are deadlines for updating registration data before each election, as well as dates for early voting and requesting mail ballots. Check the website of your county’s Supervisor of Election for details.

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Finally, don’t forget to know the candidates and issues. Your vote is only as valuable as the effort you put into preparing for an election.

Tune out the theater regarding the elections, do your own research and prepare to vote.

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Don’t Forget to Play

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It’s good to see so many people have discovered something I’ve known for years. Coloring is a great way to relax. There have been numerous stories about the popularity of adult coloring books this past year, and if you check the current list of best selling books on Amazon, you’ll find that half of the top twenty titles are adult coloring books.

As a college student, instead of spending all my time buried in textbooks at the end of every semester, I’d go to the store and buy coloring books and crayons and then devote as much time to coloring as to studying. After their initial surprise subsided, others joined in the coloring breaks providing much needed stress relief during exam week.

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While all of the attention has focused on adults coloring, there are plenty of ways to bring play back into your life.

  • Build a snowman or sand castle (pretty popular this weekend)
  • Toss a frisbee
  • Play with a pet
  • Go to a playground and swing
  • Play a board game
  • Ride a bike

It’s so easy to get in the habit of zoning out in front of the television or computer screen, but participating in play helps you forget about work and other adult responsibilities. Play fuels your imagination and relieves stress. It can even help you connect with others and be more energetic.

Who wouldn’t want to swing on one of these?

Recognizing the benefits of play, the city of Boston built a playground especially for adults with glow-in-the-dark swings, corn hole, ping pong, bocce and a giant Jenga. What a great idea!

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” George Bernard Shaw

Stay young and make time to play.

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