the ultimate plan

Warning- long and rambly with very little direction.

It’s that time of year. I’m one of those scattered souls who has to get organized NOW or my entire holiday season is shot and it’s all I can do to surf the wave, much less keep up with all the expected proper social mores.

I’m really good at making lists for shopping and errands I need to run and other things like people’s birthdays and anniversaries, and my DVR schedule juggling skills are second to none. The problem is I epic fail getting the day right, or sometimes even the month. I am notorious for thinking it’s Friday and it’s really Thursday, or somehow bifurcating Tuesday into a weird it’s both Monday and Wednesday scenario. I show up to appointments on the wrong days if I don’t write my appointments on every calendar in the house and check those every single day. I’ve woken up so many times to sudden horrible realizations that I missed a bill deadline after weeks of lists and reminders that I’ve started to live in continual dread that I’ve missed a major holiday. It got so bad last year that, even with an entire month’s lists and plans, my driver’s license expired. First time in my life that’s ever happened. My out of county library card expired by a month this summer before I even noticed (very unusual for me), and my beloved widgetbox expired by two months (was like pulling teeth getting that straightened out). I managed to keep my head together all year for other people needing things in my immediate surroundings at the expense of everything else in my own life flying right out the window.

So here we are again, it’s September and I’m making lists. Because I’m an aspiespoonie, I am particularly gifted with a really smart brain gone especially wonky, and most days I’m just winging it. I used to be awesome. I used to be the one who caught all the reservation mistakes in the computer at the hotels where I worked, the one who caught multi-million dollar inventory mistakes in my retail department, the one who got housekeeping policy changed in a hospital with simple problem solving. That’s over now. My lists are like autumn leaves, blowing around in the wind.

So what are we doing today, Zuul?

Clearly one of my priorities is to get my Halloween shows lined up.  Ghostbusters is always right at the top.

Anyway, this is the time of year that money starts disappearing real quick. The more scattered I get, the more money gets wasted on ill-timed menu planning and last minute card and gift shopping out of panic and/or guilt, not to mention charity donations, extra running around gas guzzling, and splurging when stuff I’ve been wanting goes on mega-sale. And right after holidays is taxes, and right after taxes is Valentine’s, and if I don’t get my tracks laid down NOW, I will be completely shredded and useless by next spring, not to mention super broke. That’s how I missed my only child’s 30th birthday last year, by the way. I can never get that back.

I love structure. I really miss college and work because my weeks would be all laid out for me, and I knew I had to get this or that done in the in-between times. I’m loving physical therapy this year because it structures my weeks out a little bit, but sadly sometimes comes with the adverse affect of tailspinning me into more recovery. I’m in a vigorous program that is working wonders, but I’m a spoonie and it’s taking its toll, and that in turn makes my aspie brain more wonky because I’m tired. From there it’s really easy to get lost in a sea of depression if I feel like my life is falling apart, so every day I stringently go over my lists. But that doesn’t seem to be enough.

I need a Plan. I need the ultimate List. I need a Structure that will carry me through the next 3 months without letting me fall on my face. I’m tired of epic failing. I’m tired of missing crucial important things in my life. I’m tired of dogpaddling my way through the holidays just trying to get to a float device to hang onto before taxes hit after New Year’s.

I’m discovering that everything I can do ahead of time helps tremendously. Even if I start epic failing I have fallbacks. One big trick I learned is to start freezing ahead everything possible in September so I don’t wind up getting bogged down with big cooking later. My homemade Thanksgiving stuffing is already in the freezer. I made it up this summer when I boiled a chicken and got the bright idea to go ahead and make the stuffing with the stock instead of just freezing the stock for later. I was really scattered at the time I was doing that, but you know what, that was a really good idea and it’s ~done~, yay! Getting all my cookie doughs frozen ahead this month, next on the list is pound cakes and cupcakes for Halloween and other holidays. I discovered last year that grabbing a bag of frozen cupcakes out of the freezer is pretty awesome when everything else is falling apart. I know about how much flour, sugar, oil, butter, cocoa, and other ingredients I’ll be needing for these things through the winter, so I’m buying ahead all that stuff as the prices come down for holiday baking. By the time Thanksgiving gets here, I don’t want to be doing much kitchen work at ALL because my head will be a mess by then. I’ll be so scattered with my fantasy football team and family stuff and whatever the weather does to my knees and whatnot that I’ll need every scrap of brain I can get just to be sociable and keep dates straight.

I wrote a post last year on how I deal with charity guilt. Main thing is planning ahead so it’s more fun and fulfilling. Last minute guilt giving to nameless entities is so joyless, plus there’s a risk of feeling cranky about it if you’d hoped to use that money for something sweet that’s finally going on sale. I find getting my charity donations in order way ahead of time helps keep loads of stress down.

I used to buy birthday cards ahead and get them all lined up to send out through autumn. That doesn’t work any more. Last year was a disaster. I could have sworn I’d bought cards but apparently didn’t, and wound up missing a couple completely, the rest were late. If you knew me personally you would find that shocking. For many years I was always the one who found the coolest cards and sent them out in plenty of time. I don’t know what happened in my head, but the smooth machinistic event calendar up there has become more like The Wedding of River Song where time stopped and all times are now and nothing makes sense. I keep saying I need an assistant, but I can’t afford one yet. I think this must become my ultimate Plan. Especially if I really do wind up making enough money to get to Ireland. Don’t wanna miss my plane…

 photo ireland2.jpg

But while I’m waiting to afford an assistant maybe I’ll just send everything out now instead of trying to match stuff up to proper dates. If some of you get your Christmas cards before Halloween, awesome, means I didn’t miss it.

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