Can you be more with less?

I am not sure I can embrace the ideas put forth in this post, but I think there is much that should be considered.

The Silliness of Busyness

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Courtney Carver of Be More with Less.

I never thought I would laugh at how busy I used to be. I was serious about my ability to be superwoman. I could work 40+ hours a week, raise a child, volunteer when anyone asked, exercise, travel, cook, and clean. I could do it all, and then some.

Everyone was doing it all, so I did too. I didn’t want to do it all. Doing it all made me exhausted. Doing it all cost me friendships. Doing it all cost me my health. My busyness wasn’t even a little bit silly.

Becoming less busy was not an accident, but a decision I made on purpose. I made the decision that a busy life wasn’t a life for me. Being a good person, loving wife, mother and friend…that was the life I wanted. Next to that, I wanted the freedom to do things that made my heart sing instead of things that weighed me down.

Until I intentionally left a life of chronic busyness, I couldn’t see how silly it really was. The silliness of busyness is that sometimes you are so busy, you can’t recognize you are in trouble. You are so overwhelmed that you can’t figure out how to change. You are so used to being busy that you create more work to make your life even busier.

You may be lost in the silliness of busyness if…

  • Your usual response to “how are you?” is “so busy”, “crazy busy” or “busy but good”
  • You spend time worrying about how busy you are going to be tomorrow
  • You get angry when your spouse or friends aren’t as busy as you
  • Your busy life keeps you up at night thinking about everything you didn’t get done
  • You make a point of letting people know that you stay at the office after hours
  • You check email several times a day
  • You zone out during conversations thinking about everything you have to do
  • You volunteer for things you don’t care about
  • You spend time complaining about how busy you are
  • You make list after list to make sure you don’t forget anything during your busy day
  • You allocate time each day to clean your desk or organize your stuff
  • You regularly eat in your car
  • You use a phone in the car because “it’s the only time you have to talk”

If you are anything like me, you are busy because you want to be or because you don’t know how to be un-busy. You are busy out of misdirected guilt because you think if you do enough, you will be enough. When you decide that it is ok to live life your way, you can stop being busy and start doing things that matter. You can talk about your meaningful day instead of ranting about your busy schedule. Decide today that you are enough, even if you never do anything, accomplish anything or produce anything ever again. You are enough.

How to be less busy

  • be unproductive on purpose
  • only check email 2X per day
  • delete email and toss mail that you don’t need to read
  • turn your phone and computer off when you aren’t working
  • turn everything off in the car (except the car)
  • put your ipad down
  • read The Power of Less
  • help someone
  • do less, be more
  • stop trying to keep up, measure up or catch up

While you may think that you are making sacrafices for others by being busy, you are likely sacraficing the same relationships you think you are saving. Get real, make time and consider what is most important to you. Then do that first. The rest can wait.

Courtney Carver is the author of Simple Ways to Be More with Less. Read more from Courtney at her blog, Be More with Less, or follow her on twitter.

Seniors served free lunch | thanksgiving, senior, meals – News – The Orange County Register

Seniors served free lunch | thanksgiving, senior, meals – News – The Orange County Register.   We had a great morning at the Florence Sylvester Senior Center!

Operation Valentine 2011 was a great success !

Theodora Yoch, Drew Parton, Kaitlyn Oudt

Packing 2500 Care Packages

Letting the Marines know how much we appreciate them!


Approximately 1100 mothers and daughters of District V, Region 5 ( Orange County- 13 Chapters) of National Charity League arrived at Camp Pendleton Sunday morning and shared a day with the Marines while packing 2500 care packages for the men and women Marines stationed in Afghanistan.

As District Specialist- Philanthropy, I commend this year’s chairperson, Pam Roy on the outstanding job she and the team did.  It could not have gone better.  It was inspiring during the course of the day to see moms and daughters asking questions of our Marine hosts, approx.120,  who guided the chapters through the rotations of giving a glimpse of Marine life while allowing time for us to pack out the necessary care packages.  It was a great day.  We shared and learned and walked away with a fondness and respect for the Marines and all they give to us.

Please read the Orange County Register Article on the event –

Please watch the NBC Video on the event –

Please read  the article that appeared in the military news:

Thanks to all.

More thoughtful insights from the pen of Joan Didion

I think summer is a time to recharge everything, as best you can.  Health, Work, Intellect, Family, Community.   I have spent an interesting summer reading and rereading the books and essays of Joan Didion.  Favorites – Slouching Toward Bethlehem,  The Year of Magical Thinking.  Once read  I  have not been able to get the images out of my mind. So, I want to share with all of you….

On Morality

By Joan Didion

As it happens I am in Death Valley, in a room at the Enterprise Motel and Trailer Park, and it is July, and it is hot. In fact it is 119°. I cannot seem to make the air conditioner work, but there is a small refrigerator, and I can wrap ice cubes in a towel and hold them against the small of my back. With the help of the ice cubes I have been trying to think, because The American Scholar asked me to, in some abstract way about “morality,” a word I distrust more every day, but my mind veers inflexibly toward the particular.

Here are some particulars. At midnight last night, on the road in from Las Vegas to Death Valley Junction, a car hit a shoulder and turned over. The driver, very young and apparently drunk, was killed instantly. His girlfriend was found alive but bleeding internally, deep in shock. I talked this afternoon to the nurse who had driven the girl to the nearest doctor, 185 miles across the floor of the Valley and three ranges of lethal mountain road. The nurse explained that her husband, a talc miner, had stayed on the highway with the boy’s body until the coroner could get over the mountains from Bishop, at dawn today. “You can’t just leave a body on the highway,” she said. “It’s immoral.”

It was one instance in which I did not distrust the word, because she meant something quite specific. She meant that if a body is left alone for even a few minutes on the desert, the coyotes close in and eat the flesh. Whether or not a corpse is torn apart by coyotes may seem only a sentimental consideration, but of course it is more: one of the promises we make to one another is that we will try to retrieve our casualties, try not to abandon our dead to the coyotes. If we have been taught to keep our promises – if, in the simplest terms, our upbringing is good enough – we stay with the body, or have bad dreams.

I am talking, of course, about the kind of social code that is sometimes called, usually pejoratively, “wagon-train morality.” In fact that is precisely what it is. For better or worse, we are what we learned as children: my own childhood was illuminated by graphic litanies of the grief awaiting those who failed in their loyalties to each other. The Donner-Reed Party, starving in the Sierra snows, all the ephemera of civilization gone save that one vestigial taboo, the provision that no one should eat his own blood kin. The Jayhawkers, who quarreled and separated not far from where I am tonight. Some of them died in the Funerals and some of them died down near Badwater and most of the rest of them died in the Panamints. A woman who got through gave the valley its name. Some might say that the Jayhawkers were killed by the desert summer, and the Donner Party by the mountain winter, by circumstances beyond control; we were taught instead that they had somewhere abdicated their responsibilities, somehow breached their primary loyalties, or they would not have found themselves helpless in the mountain winter or the desert summer, would not have given way to acrimony, would not have deserted one another, would not have failed. In brief, we heard such stories as cautionary tales, and they still suggest the only kind of “morality” that seems to me to have any but the most potentially mendacious meaning.

You are quite possibly impatient with me by now; I am talking, you want to say, about a “morality” so primitive that it scarcely deserves the name, a code that has as its point only survival, not the attainment of the ideal good. Exactly. Particularly out here tonight, in this country so ominous and terrible that to live in it is to live with antimatter, it is difficult to believe that “the good” is a knowable quantity. Let me tell you what it is like out here tonight. Stories travel at night on the desert. Someone gets in his pickup and drives a couple of hundred miles for a beer, and he carries news of what is happening, back wherever he came from. Then he drives another hundred miles for another beer, and passes along stories from the last place as well from the one before; it is a network kept alive by people whose instincts tell them that if they do not keep moving at night on the desert they will lose all reason. Here is a story that is going around the desert tonight: over across the Nevada line, sheriff’s deputies are diving in some underground pools, trying to retrieve a couple of bodies known to be in the hole. The widow of one of the drowned boys is over there; she is eighteen, and pregnant, and is said not to leave the hole. The divers go down and come up, and she just stands there and stares into the water. They have been diving for ten days but have found no bottom to the caves, no bodies and no trace of them, only the black 90° water going down and down and down, and a single translucent fish, not classified. The story tonight is that one of the divers has been hauled up incoherent, out of his head, shouting – until they got him out of there so that the widow could hear – about water that got hotter instead of cooler as he went down, about light flickering through the water, about magma, about underground nuclear testing.

That is the tone stories take out here, and there are quite a few of them tonight. And it is more than the stories alone. Across the road at the Faith Community Church a couple of dozen old people, come here to live in trailers and die in the sun, are holding a prayer sing. I cannot hear them and do not want to. What I can hear are occasional coyotes and a constant chorus of “Baby the Rain Must Fall” from the jukebox in the Snake Room next door, and if I were also to hear those dying voices, those Midwestern voices drawn to this lunar country for some unimaginable atavistic rites, rock of ages cleft for me, I think I would lose my own reason. Every now and then I imagine I hear a rattlesnake, but my husband says that it is a faucet, a paper rustling, the wind. Then he stands by a window, and plays a flashlight over the dry wash outside.

What does it mean? It means nothing manageable. There is some sinister hysteria in the air out here tonight, some hint of the monstrous perversion to which any human idea can come. “I followed my own conscience.” “I did what I thought was right.” How many madmen have said it and meant it? How many murderers? Klaus Fuchs said it, and the men who committed the Mountain Meadows Massacre said it, and Alfred Rosenberg said it. And, as we are rotely and rather presumptuously reminded by those who would say it now, Jesus said it. Maybe we have all said it, and maybe we have been wrong. Except on the most primitive level – our loyalties to those we love – what could be more arrogant than to claim the primacy of personal conscience? (“Tell me,” a rabbi asked Daniel Bell when he said, as a child, that he did not believe in God. “Do you think God cares?”) At least some of the time, the world appears to me as a painting by Hieronymous Bosch; were I to follow my conscience then, it would lead me out onto the desert with Marion Faye, out to where he stood in the The Deer Park looking east to Los Alamos and praying, as if for rain, that it would happen: “… let it come and clear the rot and the stench and the stink, let it come for all of everywhere, just so it comes and the world stands clear in the white dead dawn.”

Of course you will say that I do not have the right, even if I had the power, to inflict that unreasonable conscience upon you; nor do I want you to inflict your conscience, however reasonable, however enlightened, upon me. (“We must be aware of the dangers which lie in our most generous wishes,” Lionel Trilling once wrote. “Some paradox of our nature leads us, when once we have made our fellow men the objects of our enlightened interest, to go on to make them the objects of our pity, then of our wisdom, ultimately of our coercion.”) That the ethic of conscience is intrinsically insidious seems scarcely a revelatory point, but it is one raised with increasing infrequency; even those who do raise it tend to segue with troubling readiness into the quite contradictory position that the ethic of conscience is dangerous when it is “wrong,” and admirable when it is “right.”

You see I want to be quite obstinate about insisting that we have no way of knowing – beyond that fundamental loyalty to the social code – what is “right” and what is “wrong,” what is “good” and what “evil.” I dwell so upon this because the most disturbing aspect of “morality” seems to me to be the frequency with which the word now appears; in the press, on television, in the most perfunctory kinds of conversation. Questions of straightforward power (or survival) politics, questions of quite indifferent public policy, questions of almost anything; they are all assigned these factitious moral burdens. There is something quite facile going on, some self-indulgence at work. Of course we would all like to “believe” in something, like to assuage our private guilts in public causes, like to lose our tiresome selves; like, perhaps, to transform the white flag of defeat at home into the brave white banner of battle away from home. And of course it is all right to do that; that is how, immemorially, things have gotten done. But I think it is all right only so long as we do not delude ourselves about what we are doing, and why. It is all right only so long as we remember that all the ad hoc committees, all the picket lines, all the brave signatures in The New York Times, all the tools of agitprop straight across the spectrum, do not confer upon anyone any ipso facto virtue. It is all right only so long as we recognize that the end may or may not be expedient, may or may not be a good idea, but in any case has nothing to with “morality.” Because when we start deceiving ourselves into thinking not that we want something or need something, not that it is a pragmatic necessity for us to have it, but that it is a moral imperative that we have it, then is when we join the fashionable madmen, and then is when the thin whine of hysteria is heard in the land, and then is when we are in bad trouble. And I suspect we are already there.


From the book Slouching Towards Bethlehem, a collection of essays by Joan Didion.

Media Coverage -Saddleback Valley NCL sponsors Operation Valentine | boxes, ncl, valentine – News – The Orange County Register

Saddleback Valley NCL sponsors Operation Valentine | boxes, ncl, valentine – News – The Orange County Register

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Link for coverage by the Daily Pilot :

Link for Media coverage:

Operation Valentine 2010 – Camp Pendleton, CA



Business Blogs

Then said a rich man, “Speak to us of Giving.”

And he answered:

You give but little when you give of your possessions.

It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.

Giving by Khalil Gibran

On Sunday, January 10, 2010, approximately 750 volunteers will meet at Camp Pendleton in the early morning and stay all day  to pack 2400 Valentine care packages for the 1st Marine Division.  This is the annual district event for 14 Orange County chapters of the  National Charity League.

The National Charity League, District V of Orange County will be hosting its 3rd annual Operation Valentine 2010 at Marine Corp. Base Camp Pendleton on January 10, 2010. This event brings together the members of 14 Chapters of National Charity League and approximately 750 volunteers whose purpose is to fill and send 2400 Valentine Care Packages to 3 Marine Battalions from the 1st Marine Division, currently stationed in Afghanistan.  In addition, cash donations will provide approximately 450 gift cards to the families of the Marines.  This will require a fund raising effort to achieve funds in excess of  $15,000 for the  gift cards which provide a needed supplement to base families. Any funds raised for this event directly benefit the active duty Marines and their families stationed at and affiliated with Camp Pendleton.

I am privileged to be the co-chair of this event ( Saddleback Chapter )  with Denise Miller of the So Cal Chapter ( Long Beach, Seal Beach, Los Alamitos). Together with a stellar group of ladies, we will  work to gather donations of money and products and manage the logistics of this event.

This is the 3rd year for Operation Valentine. Last year’s event took place at Camp Pendleton and the Orange County NCL Chapters sent 1200 Valentine care packages to our Marines in Iraq  and provided approx. $10,500 in gift cards to Marine families. This year we will double our efforts.

This is a difficult economy to achieve  such ambitious results, but our ladies are fierce.   We will ask the  Orange County Register to cover this event again. Our publicity staff will work to get as much needed publicity for this event as possible.

If you would like to donate products for our Valentine care packages or make a donation to our fund for gift cards, please contact me at  All donations are tax deductible.

We love our troops!