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“Honey I Shrunk My Short-Term Memory!”

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Reality show?


Horror movie?

If you’re like me, chances are it’s All of the Above.

In keeping with my recent experiences with diminishing cognitive functionality (wait… did I have a recent experience with diminishing cognitive functionality?), I recently failed to follow-up on something at work and it really upset me. It was not an earth-shattering My Bad and no humans were harmed in the course of my forgetfulness, but considering all the ridicule to which my ever-vanishing short-term memory has been subjected to by my husband and kids, it bothered me. I am a champion multi-tasker and pride myself in my attention to detail, yet lately the detail is brain fog-inducing.

I recall a conversation I had a year ago with my doctor. I told her I thought I was losing my mind because I kept forgetting things. She didn’t bat an eye, responding, “If I had a quarter for every 40-something female patient I saw who said that, I could have retired long ago.”  So very reassuring, but not entirely helpful. She suggested adding Sudoku to engage my brain.  “Really, Doctor?  Since you’re adding one more thing to my To-Do list, do you think you could also prescribe some Ritilin?  Because honestly, Doc, there aren’t enough hours in a day.”  I briefly debated with her the merits of a midline catheter for intravenous caffeine injections, but soon let it go… at least so far she thought I was normal.

But if you pause to think what the average 40-something is expected to remember, it’s no small wonder we feel like we’re going crazy.  I’m sure you can you relate to the following questions I ask myself between 6:00 and 7:15am, before I even leave the house:

Did I run the dishwasher last night?

Did I close the garage door last night?

Is there any milk in the house?

Was I supposed to bring something to my 9:00am meeting?

What did I book this 9:00am meeting for again?

Do I need to take anything out of the freezer for dinner?

Are there any tampons in my purse?

“Who’s doing what and where today (aka, does my office attire have to be suitable for climbing bleachers)?”

“Were the dogs fed?

Was that my multi-vitamin I just took or the dog’s heartworm medication?

Did I miss my nephew’s birthday? Again?

“Why does everyone look at me when we run out of Nutella?”

Why is there a fork in my purse?

Will anyone really notice if I put plastic flowers in my garden this year?

How long have those clothes been sitting in the washing machine?

“Where the hell is my other shoe?”

Is there any gas in the car?

“What do you mean there’s no ink in the printer and your assignment is due today?”

Did I leave the dogs out back? Again?

Jeez, did anyone on that school bus just see me trip over the garden hose as I made my way to my car?

Did I remember to charge my cell phone?

Throwing my hand to the air and asking my family to remind me when I get home is no use whatsoever.  They all just look at me later and still say, “We talked about this yesterday” though I have my suspicions that we ever did.

Martha Stewart recommends this handy checklist of The 6 Things You Should Do Everyday suggesting that “With just a few minutes’ work, you’ll easily be able to keep chaos at bay.”  Her magic list includes making the bed, managing clutter, sorting the mail, cleaning as you cook, wiping up spills while they’re fresh and sweeping the kitchen floor.

Really, she’s a Saviour, isn’t she?  I simply cannot imagine a household that would permit a reckless procrastination of mail-sorting.  Think of the peace and harmony that would be vanquished.  Chaos, indeed.  Martha’s list does hold a powerful message for me however.  If I had only 6 things on my list of Things to Remember, no one would ever question my cognitive functions.

… And I would NEVER have to go to work in mismatched shoes again.

Do you have a Martha’s list that maintains your sanity?  Please share it with me!

Forget about Work-Life Balance

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Career advice guru, Barbara Moses, recently wrote about work-life balance.  I have struggled with this myth since becoming a mother but she is now advising me to forget about it and get on with life.  She got my attention and her advice resonated well.

Since motherhood I have occasionally second guessed the choices I have made between my career and my family life.  No matter which side of the fence I was on, I was always curious about what the women were doing on the other side!  I know I am one of the fortunate ones as we had the financial means to allow me to make choices, though that didn’t necessarily make the choices any easier.

Basically the article begs people to stop whining about work-life balance and get on with what’s important in their life.  That is my own life.  It’s true.  No institution can adjudicate and promote my own work-life balance.  Furthermore, it’s not a one size fits all state of being.  I think all  too often people are looking to our governments and our employers to make these decisions for us in their policy making, but it really does come down to doing what is best suited for me and my goals in life.  

Here are her suggestions:

  1. Forget about the pursuit of balance – things that engage me make me feel good about me and my life
  2. Identify what’s important – if I imagine myself 10 years down the road, which decisions will I be proud of and which will I regret?
  3. Know where your presence is most valued – it is a fact of the corporate life that if I put my family first I just may not get that promotion.  Will I really regret it?
  4. Be engaged, wherever you are – I set boundaries for work and focus on personal things at home
  5. Stop playing the guilt game – if I really feel guilty, I should change my behaviour
  6. Think life chapters – I can never have it all, ALL the time
  7. Forget easy solutions – or “Mother said there’d be days like this …”
  8. Be steadfast – I won’t second guess myself or allow others to make me feel guilty
  9. Accept less than perfect – as a parent, partner, boss, employee, and friend.

Sounds an awful lot like a list of New Year’s resolutions!  Thinking back to what I wrote I was most thankful for in 2010, family, health and prosperity, I guess I already did apply Barbara Moses suggestions above.  That’s what made it such an awesome year! 

Life with kids is crazy.  Life without kids is crazy.  What are you going to do about it?  I don’t think I need to chase that work-life balance mirage any longer.

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