Tuesday, September 16, 2014


I've written extensively about my childhood and its influence on my as an adult.

I've written so much about my childhood, that a friend once said, after reading my blog, "Your family reminds me so much of Jeanette Walls' family as described in The Glass Castle."

While I need to be mindful of hyperbole, I can say that my childhood was apparently wackier than most.

Yup, my siblings and I ran with scissors while sucking on lollipops throughout our unattended home. While my single mom worked multiple jobs to provide for her five kids, we populated the neighborhood like a band of English school boys following a deadly plane crash.

But we always did our chores first.

My mom knows she did a good job raising her kids. And she also knows she was lucky.

On those occasions when I've reminisced with my mom about the crazy that was my childhood, she has been reflective. "It is amazing that none of you got into more trouble. I am glad that none of you made such bad choices that you ended up in jail, with an addiction, a family before you were ready, or serious illness or injury." (My therapist has said the same thing.)

And recently, she has been adding the following, "I believe each of my kids has an extraordinary work ethic. This is part of what helped you become the people you are today. And I'm sorry that I taught you that work comes before pleasure, that you can't stop to smell the roses before you finish your chores, that getting things done is the goal of life."

Wha?! Recanting the primacy of the almighty list?!

She continues, "Getting things done is important. But it isn't the goal of life. The goal of life is to have fun, enjoy friends and family, seek out and appreciate beauty. I wish you - and your siblings - could unlearn just a little bit of that work ethic I instilled in you. Before its too late."

Carol has spoken. I'm going to cross "Write blog post" off my list of things to do and go have some fun.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Park N-Shop

I had to take the strengths finder aptitude test for work and discovered that I am an "achiever."  What this means is "By the end of every day I must achieve something tangible in order to feel good about myself."

Big surprise.

I was raised by a list maker. Every day she would make a list of things that needed to be done. When my four siblings and I were old enough to read (and do chores), my mother would make lists for us too. "You can't play until you've done everything on your list" was her mantra. To further cement the importance of lists in our lives, we even played games that started with making lists.

Park N-Shop dealt each player a set of errand cards. The object of the game was to run your errands more efficiently than anyone else. The game board was a mock-up of a downtown square, and you rolled the dice to see how many sidewalk squares you could move to get to your next destination. Park N-Shop was such an influential game in my family that it became part of our vernacular, slang for being more or less efficient than one would like. As in "I am not park n-shopping very well today."

In Park N-Shop your errand cards functioned as your list. and one of the core strategies of Park N-Shop was to review your cards and plot out the most efficient route for tearing through downtown.

Luckily, I also married a list maker.

We just made our list of things to do this weekend, and have finished negotiating the first leg of our weekend errand running. We will drive to the farmer's market. Buy whatever vegetables (or other goodies) we want. We will then store them in the car while we walk to a local watering hole so BMG can pick up his football cards. We'll then walk back to the car, and head to the mall to return something and look for a new bookshelf for the living room. On the way back, we'll stop at Bed Bath and Beyond so I can get the new floor and carpet steamer I've been wanting. Once at home, we'll move the clean sheets from the dryer and make the bed, and move the wet towels to the dryer. Then, I'll clean the bathroom (including steam cleaning the floor).


This achiever feels satisfied today.