Ah, that thief of time…stealing hours from my CBAP prep

I’ve written before on procrastination.  It’s still a challenge. When I wrote my most recent post I had it all planned out: I would journal each night in my lovely “Keep Calm and Write On” journal a friend gave me for Christmas. Then I’d post regularly each Sunday. Maybe I’d slip a random cat picture in on Saturdays. (“That’s Caturday” says Pickles.) Then both the reality of my new exercise schedule (6:30 a.m. Tuesday and Thursday, 8 a.m. Saturday), and my inherent sloth kept that from happening. So here we are. On Thursday, writing a post I meant to publish last Sunday.

It’s also making hash of my study schedule for the Certified Business Analysis Practitioner exam. Actually, I should reword that – I’m allowing distractions to make a hash of my schedule. “Procrastination” isn’t something that happens to me – I’m doing it. And I’m doing it to avoid dealing with the dry-as-dirt text of the review manual I must cover. I’ve never read anything so boring. I’ve taken economics and accounting classes in college that had more pep and dramatic interest. It amazes me that the IIBA (International Institute of Business Analysis) could wick the life out of my job and drain it of all interest. My day-to-day job – helping to build or add on to web sites for a large company – is fascinating. You’d never know that if all you knew of business analysis was this Business Analysis Book of Knowledge and the review text. After a month I am still on chapter five of a nine-chapter book.

So here’s the plan to conquer procrastination and get this over with: Get up a little earlier on Mondays and Wednesdays, head to work early, and study for one hour before starting work. Tuesday nights – study from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday nights – study from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays – do at least one hour of catch-up review.

Will I do it? I can’t let this drag on forever. Readers, keep me honest and cheer me on!

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On friendship

It’s been a long time since I posted, but now’s the time to start again. I’m going to take the pressure off myself by posting only once a week – and maybe only once every two weeks. Another time I’ll explain the long gap in posts. Today is about friendship.

Tomorrow my friend Jill moves to Alabama to be closer to her family – especially her 70-something father. Jill and I have known each other since 1999, the year I moved back to Columbia. 15 years! We celebrated our 40th birthdays together with a trip to New York City. Every year for the past eight years we’ve been going to the S.C. Book Festival together, coming home laden down with new books. She is one of my oldest friends and I’m going to miss her terribly. I’ve already planned my first road trip to Alabama on the first weekend of April.

Ever since she told me she was leaving, I’ve thought long and hard about friendship – how so many of my friends have left my life, how my shyness prevents me from opening up and making friends quickly and deeply. I have so many acquaintances … and I’d like to turn them into real friends. Then I start to think, how can I show them love? How can I be a friend to them? (The best way to have a friend: be one, or so I’ve heard.) Over the years numbers of dear ones have moved away, like my friend Karen who’s now in New York with her kids. It’s been almost 8 years since I’ve seen her, but I still remember her fondly and we send each other Christmas cards. And there’s Grace, the military wife in Virginia. Now she’s one who learned to make friends quickly. I need to ask her for tips. Thank God she loves to post on Facebook and keep us all up to date. That’s the only way I know what’s going on with her and her crew.

As I look over it, I don’t think I’m too harsh in thinking I’m to blame for letting so many friendships either wither or fade for lack of care. How can I fix it? By cherishing the ones I still have and mainly by listening better. So often I find myself listening at the start of a conversation, then drifting off to think of something else. The writer Russell T. Davies once said that conversation, real conversation, isn’t so much one person taking, and the other person listening, as it is one person talking – and the other person waiting to talk. Ouch. If I listened better – I’d know so much more about the friends I have – so many more details, and be so much more a part of their lives.

But, thank God, there are new friends to make, and new friendships to deepen. In the last year I’ve started to get to know Janie, a fellow member of my Toastmasters club. She’s such a fascinating individual – and a worthy friend to have and cherish.

In our language, we speak of cultivating friendship. That makes me think of gardening. Just as it’s now time to plan for the spring planting, it’s time to get to work on friendships, to cut away the vines and dig up weeds, clear away dead pine straw and till the earth. It’s time to bring forth something beautiful.

So tired … busy weekend Toastmastering at District Conference

I will never drive back from a District Conference on the Saturday night after it ends … I left Myrtle Beach at 1 1 p.m. and got home at quarter of 2.

But the conference itself was fantastic. My friend Ray Schnell won 1st place in the International Speech Contest. He’ll represent South Carolina (District 58) at the 2013 International Convention in Cincinnati, Ohio, this August. Sorry for the fuzzy photo; I was moving around.

Ray Schnell
Ray Schnell is congratulated by International Director Kristina Kiehlberg, left and District 58 Governor Phillip Woody. Phillip is a tall guy and he has to look up to Ray here!

 

The conference was held at the beautiful (and pricy) Hilton Myrtle Beach Resort at Kingston Plantation. I got there around 7:30 p.m. Friday … the sunset from my oceanfront room balcony was a gentle display:

Serene oceanfront view
The view down the beach at Kingston Plantation in North Myrtle from my balcony was serene.

More pictures and commentary to follow ….

Links I love … and you’ll love them too

Lately inspiration has left me for blog topics. My back is healing nicely (thank you, Pilates and Swimming!) and work is going ok (knock on wood.) And I did post the fun photos from Bark to the Park. So I thought I’d share with you some of the blogs and sites I love to visit. I’m betting you’ll want to add them to your blogroll.

One of my favorite blogs is the one hosted by the “Blogfather” himself, Instapundit. Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds has been blogging since shortly before 9/11, and his method is to post links to other sites, along with short one to two-sentence commentaries. If he’s really amused he’ll add his trademark “Heh“. The content is mostly news and politics from a libertarian/conservative perspective, but you might find anything and everything on his blog. Including a perfectly marvelous recipe for chicken.

Another blog on my Firefox Morning Coffee plug-in  is Testosterhome. Augusta, Ga. writer Rachel Balducci chronicles her life with five boys and one daughter. I started reading her blog when she only had four boys. It’s an inside look at an entirely different life than mine – I’m a single woman with career, volunteer work and friends, who is a Baptist, and she is a married stay-at-home Mom and professional writer who is a Southern Catholic. Through her blog I’ve learned all about soccer, Chuck Norris and all things wild and wonderful in a family of eight.

Sippican Cottage is winsome blog written by a Yankee furniture maker. If I ever get an extra $500 together I’m buying one of his beautiful, handmade console tables. They are crafted from Tiger Maple and have tapered legs. An instant heirloom. His wry commentary on the social scene is worth subscribing to. And his boys – wow! He and his wife homeschool their two boys, who are budding musicians. Their two-man, largely self-taught band “Unorganized Hancock” plays requests from their dad’s blog readers. You’ve got to watch this version of Buddy Holly’s “Oh, Boy.” It will make your day.

Bark to the Park

It was a beautiful day for walking outside with a doggie … and several hundred Columbians did that downtown Saturday as part of Bark to the Park, the annual fundraiser for the local pet rescue shelter Pawmetto Lifeline. My friend and work colleague Bess invited me to join her team and help her walk her two dogs, Buddy and Pickles. Buddy was friendly and enjoyed nosing around the other dogs; Pickles was, ahem, overstimulated by all the excitement. But both behaved well and didn’t foul the streets!

The walk was led by the local police canine unit.

K-9 unit
Columbia’s finest rests up before leading the walk.

Buddy, ever sociable, was ready for his closeup:

Buddy, ready to go
Why, yes, I am ready to go for the one-mile walk.

Pickles wouldn’t consent to having a picture made by himself; we had to catch him in an unguarded moment.

Buddy and Pickles
Two pals momentarily out of mischief

The State newspaper has a great roundup of photos.

Cocky meets the dogs at Bark to the Park
Cocky at Bark to the Park – photo from The State.