Monday, 26 August 2013

The Best First Prize

I love a harvest fair, and I love small town fairs the best.  They are closest to what fairs used to be:  A place where the agricultural community meets to learn, to trade, to do a little bragging about their skills, to visit with their neighbours, and to encourage kids to carry the traditions forward into the next generation.

I went to just such a fair this weekend, in Cobble Hill.

As I do at any fair, I headed first to the exhibit hall. For me, it's like an cornucopia, filled with bounty. Here can be found the prize winning vegetables, the jars of canning, the beautiful pies, the hand stitched quilts, and the flower arrangements; treasures every one. 

I especially like the classes in each exhibit that are open to young children.  It's great to see them making their best attempts, and to witness their pride in winning a ribbon.

At a small fair with a great many entry classes and a small population from which to draw exhibitors, chances of winning are good.  A child who places something in each of two or three different classes will likely find a ribbon awarded to at least one of their entries.

Which leads me to the story of my very favourite entry at this year's fair:

This was the first-prize-winning zucchini animal by a child under the age of six.

It was the only entry in its class.  

I came upon it at the very same time the proud young sculptor discovered he'd received a blue ribbon.  He is two years old, and told me all about how he'd made his zucchini creature, taking particular pride in his placement of the blueberries.  

When he had finished telling me about it, I thanked him for showing me how he'd made his project. I congratulated him on his ribbon, and pointed out that a blue ribbon meant he'd won first prize.  

His reply?

"I know!  And it's the very BEST first prize!"

And you know what? 

He was absolutely right.  :)

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Our Lady of Lists

My fella once jokingly dubbed me "Our Lady of Lists."  It's a fitting title.  I do love a list. 

Actually, I love a lot of lists. 

I have a reading list, and a topic list for future blogs. 

I have a grocery list, and a list of items I'm collecting for craft projects. 

I have a list of craft supplies I may need, and sewing projects I want to undertake. 

I have a list of things to look for when I go thrifting. 

I have inventory lists for my pantry and both deep freezes. 

I have a list of birthdays and anniversaries that I try to remember and, of course, the big kahuna of lists in my house, the "to do" list.

The process of list making helps me to organize my thoughts and to give some priority to the many things I'd like to fit into my schedule. 

There is a dangerous side to all this list making though: 

If I have too many projects on the go and still more waiting to get started, it's easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of it all. 

When I get overwhelmed by the tasks at hand, I'm kind of like a deer in the headlights; frozen, mesmerized, and unable to more forward to accomplish anything at all.

It took me a long time to realize I was creating this feeling of being overwhelmed, and even longer to arrive at a solution that works for me.

Here's what I figured out:

I can still make all those lists without feeling overwhelmed if I just limit my "to do" list to three attainable goals each day. 

The attainable part is really important. In order not to find myself mired in frustration, I need to feel at the end of the day that I've accomplished what I set out to do. 

I'm careful with my wording: 

Instead of writing "sew new dress,"  I'll write "cut out new dress" because I know that I can get at least that much done. 

Instead of writing "do the week's baking,"  I'll write "bake bread"  because that's the most important portion of the baking. 

If the rest doesn't get done, we'll get by just fine. 

By keeping the goals on my "to do" list more attainable, I can end my day with a feeling of accomplishment.  If I get more done than what's on my list, I feel even better.

Simple, right?

Funny how smart solutions so often are.  ;^)