Posts tagged ‘planning’

A Joyedian’s Tale: 10th Toastmasters Speech!


Below follows the script for my tenth Toastmasters speech (tomorrow!) — the culminating speech in the Competent Communication Manual.  Enjoy. 🙂

How to Plan and Have a Wedding in 6 Weeks or Less

I’ve always said that I hate planning, that I’m NOT a planner. 5 years ago my fiancée Brian and I got tired of calling each other “girlfriend” and “boyfriend” and were happy to advance to the “fiancée” stage after a proposal at Moraine Lake in July of 2012. However, I was not so eager to approach the daunting task of planning a wedding, and so I easily let it slide onto the back-burner. When circumstances changed, we moved up the date, setting up whirlwind wedding plans that actually went pretty smoothly. Here are 6 guidelines that made the event possible.

1.Have a clear purpose.

Having a clear purpose will keep you focused on your goal. Mine was health insurance.

 Do I love Brian? Yes. Do I want to spend my life with him? Yes. But was I ready to plan a wedding? Well . . . I had other things going on that seemed to require my attention. But. . . the law does require the ownership of health insurance, and according to the Illinois Department of Insurance, a partner may not go on the other partner’s insurance unless joined in a civil union or marriage. Though I was eager to move on from the Health Insurance Marketplace, I wasn’t sure I was ready to tie the knot so quickly, but after being dragged by a rope through the Marketplace maze the morning of November 28th, I quickly reconsidered. Thus, the planning began.

2. Give yourself a short deadline.

A 1955 Edition of The Economist defines Parkinson’s Law: “work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” Have you ever heard the saying: “ If you want something done, give it to a busy person?” expounds on this concept:

“An elderly lady of leisure can spend the entire day in writing and dispatching a postcard to her niece at Bognor Regis. An hour will be spent in finding the postcard, another in hunting for spectacles, half-an-hour in a search for the address, an hour and a quarter in composition, and twenty minutes in deciding whether or not to take an umbrella when going to the pillar-box in the next street. The total effort which would occupy a busy man for three minutes all told may in this fashion leave another person prostrate after a day of doubt, anxiety and toil.

(Perhaps you can relate?)

Once I decided I was getting married in a month-in-a-half, I had to become really strategic with my time. There were less options because there was a shorter time to think about things. I did almost all of my research and browsing on-line to save time, including dress and ring shopping.  This worked out great for me because I am generally not a big fan of shopping.

3. Have a clear vision.

 PsychologyToday says “Brain studies now reveal that thoughts produce the same mental instructions as actions. . . .It’s been found that mental practices can enhance motivation, increase confidence and self-efficacy, improve motor performance, prime your brain for success, and increase states of flow – all relevant to achieving your best life!”

I knew exactly what I wanted AND exactly what I DIDN’T want: Outside beach wedding in Cambria, California — YES. Big church wedding with reception hall—NO.  Hundreds of guests, invitations, and catering? NO. YES to ONLY immediate family, invited by phone, a simple restaurant reception meal, and some basic site-seeing. (It also helped that I had visited and fallen in love with the area a few years before and already envisioned getting married there.) Knowing exactly what I wanted made it easier to for me to direct my planning process.

4. STICK to the vision.

We were very clear on not opening Pandora’s box with invitations – no matter how awkward. Some were startled and jarred by our sudden, private wedding plans – and it made for some pretty awkward holiday reveals — but I knew I’d be miserable if I changed the wedding size or location. Stick to your guns, or you might go up in smoke.

5. Start with the basics.

Steven Covey’s Third Habit from the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is to “Put First Things First” or “Execute on the most important priorities.”

He says: “To live a more balanced existence, you have to recognize . . . there’s no need to overextend yourself. . . focus on your highest priorities.”

For me, this meant “chunking” and organizing by the order of importance.

Week one of wedding planning: letting guests know and securing a place to stay for the group, securing the wedding location, researching the specifics for getting legally married in California, and booking the flight out there.

Week 2: securing an officiator, making some reservations for the other events, ordering my dress and wedding rings.

Week 3: picking vows, securing a rental vehicle, and making arrangements for our 4 pets.

Week 4: trying on the dress, clothes for Brian, confirming pet arrangements, and final reservations.

Weeks 5 and 6: confirming with officiator, getting shoes, checking in with housing arrangement, checking in with guests, printing out all confirmations, and packing.

Done, done, done, done, and done!

6. Keep it simple.

Did you know that the origin of bouquets was either to mask the smell of the bride or   ward off evil spirits? Or that a bride’s attendants dressed like the bride to confuse evil spirits trying to spoil the bride’s happiness? Or that a wedding cake was born from a fertility rite? (

None of that for me! If it wasn’t necessary, I dropped it. Just immediate family. We take our own pictures. No bouquet. No bridesmaids or groomsman. No wedding cake. Basic rings, basic dress, basic hair, and a quick ceremony.  And a quick ceremony — that means we can stand! (No chairs! No setup!) No need for plan B: We use umbrellas if it rains! Simple restaurant reception. Get us in, get us out, and spend the rest of our time enjoying California.

How about you? Are you ready now to plan your next momentous event?   Through this process I’ve discovered I actually do enjoy planning! What a difference a quick wedding makes. If I’d followed my own advice, maybe I could have gotten married 5 years ago!

Wonderful Weekend

"Dancing Youngwoman" courtesy of Ambro /

“Dancing Youngwoman” courtesy of Ambro /

I promised myself that I wouldn’t work this weekend (beyond my tutoring hours).  That meant no grading, no planning, etc.   Anything I needed to get done I would do Friday and Monday.   I panicked a bit when my mind/body put up extreme resistance to doing any work on Friday; I almost decided to grade a bit on Saturday or a bit on Sunday to feel better.  It would be my decision to do it, then, not a “should”, right?  But I ended up staying clear, and as I write this, working on my grading on Monday, I’m glad.

Because I had a fantastic weekend.  I got to experience what my life is like without schoolwork.  And it was a little odd, let me tell you.  For a while, I was quite lost.  I caught up on my e-mail and Facebook, I did some reading and writing, some meditation, and then I wasn’t quite sure what I was supposed to be doing.  Sometimes I just sat.  I went for a walk with Bowser.  I did some simple exercises and some Zumba.  Went food shopping.  Helped Brian with meals. (He’s really the master chef.)  We saw three great movies from the “nearly new” $1 shelf: Sherlock Holmes, Contagion, and Crazy, Stupid, Love.  All fantastic movies.  (What are the odds of that working out?!)  It was great.  I’ve been trying to “just BE”, and I think taking schoolwork out of the picture was a great help to that.  Not doing any housework felt great, too, although I know I’ve got to catch up on that at some point so that I don’t feel like a complete slob. . . 🙂

I’m thankful for a non-busy weekend that refreshed me for the week.  And now, back to grading. 🙂


Bah.  I was so excited today because I had some extra time — and I never have extra time on Tuesdays — and then I was lost as to what to do with it.  And so I squandered it.

I didn’t get my snow day today, but I did get a snow afternoon.  Usually I have 3 tutoring students in the afternoon after my day of teaching Spanish.  But I canceled one and was able to keep and push  forward the other session, since I was now home early, and the student meets near my house.

But I couldn’t figure out what to do with myself when I got home.  Normally I come home and immediately tear off my work clothes and throw on some jammies, but I couldn’t do that, since I still had a lesson in an hour.  I felt helpless.  Do I snack?  (Yes.)  Do I write?  (No.)  Do I get some work done? (No.)  Do I do various inane things that I will not even remember hours later when I write the post? (Yes.)

And what also stunk is that I missed karaoke tonight because of the snow.  I LOVE karaoke, but it seemed ridiculous to cancel a tutoring session, only to go trouncing out in the snow later the same evening, throwing caution to the wind.  So, what did I do in place of karaoke tonight?  Sadly, I ended up typed up tutoring lesson summaries and responded to a bunch of work e-mail to parents about corrections and final grades for Spanish.

What the heck? Where was my snow day?  Where was my trade-off?  Why am I a masochist sometimes?

On the upside, I am now pretty caught up with parent e-mails, I am still fairly caught up with grading and planning, and I have a light schedule the rest of the week, since it’s the end of the trimester.  I know that this effort that I put in today will help toward making the rest of the week easier and will help me reach my goal of having more relaxing weekends.

The Thing About My Job Is. . .

My career/life purpose coach gave me the assignment this week to look at my job — teaching in particular — and look at what I like and dislike about it.  It’s that time of year again when the school year is more than half way over, and summer vacation/summer jobs are peeking over the horizon.  So, what am I drawn to?  What do I enjoy about what I do, and where can that take me?

I’ll start with do not likes, so that I end on a positive note:

  • Excessive grading (unless I’m paid for it!) — especially of projects and other complicated assignments
  • Excessive Planning
  • Balancing interesting activities with less intense planning and less intense grading
  • Working at home (and not getting paid for it, and not doing things I want to do at home)
  • Managing disruptive students
  • Managing off-task students
  • Dealing with a loud noise level
  • Keeping a classroom organized
  • Less pay
  • No insurance (which can also be a benefit)
  • Negative parental contact


And then there are likes:

  • The stability of the job.
  • The hours.
  • The variety of the job.
  • Going into a job and leaving the house.
  • Less pressure than last year with a specials subject (Spanish).
  • Interacting with people.
  • Students and teachers greeting me in the hallways.
  • Students saying they are enjoying an activity.
  • Managing students who are mostly on-task and interested in the work.
  • Helping teachers or students who need help.
  • Connecting with students/teachers.
  • Snow days (if there are any!)
  • nice lunch (on full days)
  • on my feet and moving around
  • having a good laugh
  • fun activities
  • positive parental contact, including open house and conferences

That’s it for now.  I may add more later.


"Winter Bird" courtesy of maple /

“Winter Bird” courtesy of maple /

How do you know when something is a good-for-you should and when it’s a not-for -you should?  I’m a very emotional person who tries to follow her intuition but hasn’t figured out the difference between intuition and irrational fear or resistance.

I just went two trips around the walking path with my dog Bowser, taking advantage of the 50-degree weather.  (Yes, it’s true – Chicagoans have a warped sense of what’s warm; but tomorrow it’s going to be 30 degrees colder!)

I didn’t feel like going out, but I felt I knew I “should.”  Felt I knew I should.  So, is that a good should?  I knew I’d come back feeling refreshed and full of fresh air in my lungs, and I did.  I knew my legs would feel stretched and my head would be clearer.  And those both happened.  So, even though I was reluctant to go out at first, it wasn’t really a “should”, was it?

Today I’m spending the day getting my “should”s done — grading and planning for the week, but I want to get my “want”s in, too.  There’s this blog.  The walk.  I’d like to get some more writing in somewhere else, too.  There are the shows I’m watching to help me get through the workload (right now I’m watching the first few episodes ever of SNL, inspired by something I read in a bathroom reader).

I intend to make this a great week, even if I have to spend half the time convincing myself of it!

Don’t Wanna Go Home

Does anyone else dread coming home? Not because you’re in an abusive or annoying relationship, or you have kids to take care of. Nothing like that. But because you feel like you don’t know what to start? And by start, I mean, what work to get done first? Do I have a problem? Or is this normal?

My house isn’t clean. I have dishes that are sitting in the sink, laundry that needs to be done, a couch that needs to be de-furred, a bathroom that could be cleaned, and a floor that needs to be vacuumed. But only the laundry is on today’s to do list. (I’m down to my last few pairs of underwear, and they are that kind that I would only wear with form-fitting pants.)

I’m wondering if I should start working on my ELL report cards, my reading tests, or my lesson plans for the week. Or should I jump into the laundry for a bit? Do some job searching? Practice my band and orchestra music? Get in some exercise and fresh air?  Call my uncle for our monthly check-in?  Write? (Clearly you can see which choice I made. . .)

Home is not a sanctuary for me. It’s a place where I get work done. Or where I procrastinate before I get work done. I am sitting here, on the couch, typing this, and feeling positively awful. Sigh.

Well, at least I have had a nice day and a half so far. We had a movie and game night evening and morning with our friends up north. I was away from my house, and I almost didn’t think about my job at all, except when asked a bit about it. My sister asked me to look at some certification documents, but I successfully postponed the activity until next weekend. I needed a break.

How do I break this pattern? How do I organize my time and balance my life so that I don’t feel burdened all of the time? I decided this weekend that I want to be happy from now on. I want to look on the bright side. I want to feel that lightness and euphoria that I only feel at select special moments, or if I’ve had a drink or two. I AM A HAPPY PERSON!  I am a joyful, excited, full-of-energy, pleasant-to-be-around person, I swear!  It’s in there somewhere!

Then, how do I spend the last hours of my weekend before I must buck up and prepare myself to go back to work?

Image: ningmilo /

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