Adventure by Ollie

A Search for Purpose in a Random World


long reads

How to Lock the Door on Time Stealers and Accomplish Your Purpose.


Hello Again! Thank you for visiting.  My goal is to write something (anything) everyday.  For the past couple of days I’ve been working on today’s post, and still haven’t finished it! As soon as I got home this afternoon, I made a big salad and then sat down with my laptop to get busy writing to you.  I hope you’ve had a wonderful day.

For all of you hungry people out there – here’s what’s in my salad: Spinach leaves, a random bag of lettuce (IDK  what kind – it’s green), pickled sliced beets (my favorite), orange slices, tomatoes, and cucumbers.  It’s topped with plain Kefir, which I recommend, especially if you’re a buttermilk lover like me – it’s got a similar taste, and is great for your digestive health.  Locally, the only Kefir brand available is the one produced by Lifeway.  I don’t know how it compares with other brands, so you’re welcome to post a comment below about your favorite kind/brand of Kefir.

I also poured a little bit of blue cheese dressing on my salad, because that’s what people do.

Getting Down to Business

If this is your first time visiting the site, “Hello, it’s nice to meet you.”  This blog is my writing outlet – I write whatever I want to (poetry, opinions, rants, informational, inspirational, humor, you get the picture), and sometimes folks read it.  If you’d like to know more about me and why I blog, click the About Me page above.  Here on, we bloggers like to write and read, and other stuff, we’re creative, like you.  Come and join us – start a blog for free.  It’s not spinach, but it’s probably still a very healthy choice.

A common theme in conversations I’ve heard lately is that of juggling work with family.  The consensus is that everyone wants to spend more time with family.  The one thing that seems to prevent them is work, too much work, so much work that it cannot be completed without putting in overtime – LOTS OF overtime.

You guessed it! The folks, and I, having these conversations lately are teachers.  How did you know?  But teachers aren’t the only ones who experience the family/work tension.  Grab your salad, and let’s dig in.

First, A Story

At a church I once worked in as the Children’s Minister, several volunteers cornered me and asked me what I was going to do about ‘The Closet Mess’.  My mind reeled with ideas of what they could be referring to: an actual closet, a rumored closet, a situation where someone was caught with someone else in the closet, skeletons in the closet, skeletons coming out of the closet – the possibilities were endless.  Aha! I thought, here is the moment all of my expensive, private, Christian college education has prepared me for.

I have a Theology degree.  I can handle ANYTHING.

The ‘Closet’ in question turned out to be a real, actual closet in the church building, which was disappointing considering the well-thought out exhortation I had mentally prepared.  Oh, well, ‘Love Thy Neighbor’ and ‘Mind your own Business’ would have to wait.

I was shown to a room on the first floor, with an, “I LOVE JESUS,” poster on the wall.  In the corner was the closet in question.

The class meeting in that classroom needed a place to store their supplies, the volunteers explained.  “Why can’t they use this one?” I asked, naively. (Oh how naïve I was.)

“Open it,” they replied.  I did.  I wished I hadn’t.

“It’s your problem now,” they said.  I turned back around to ask a question.  Everyone had scampered.  “You didn’t see us!” and “We were never here!” they shouted from far away down the hall.  I looked again at the unbelievable seven by four foot wall of junk.  The closet was full of trash.

It turned out that a few church committees had stalemated over the disposal of used church curricula, denominationally produced Bible study materials, and convention newsletters.  The result of this was a more than 25 year pile up of paper, cardboard, and dust.  The shelves, barely reachable, contained a few of the supplies teachers had managed to wriggle out a space for plus old maintenance supplies from before the pile up had gotten out of control.  I counted crayons, glue, glue guns, markers, paint, spray paint, paint brushes, turpentine, nails, screws, caulking, metal spatulas, hammers, a box of razor blades, and matches.

A perfect combination for an unlocked closet in the corner of a 3rd through 5th grade boy’s Sunday night discipleship class…

…and also a perfect picture of the mess we sometimes find ourselves in when work, life, and relationships fill our time with more work than is humanly possible to manage.

Time to Take Control

In order to take control, and keep control, we must be intentional about our lives.  Here is how I manage and organize, not only closets, but time as well.

1. Give it a Purpose:

Wherever there is a vacuum, a void of space, the universal law is that it must be filled.  If we do not set a purpose for our closets, drawers, hours, and days – others will step in and set a purpose for us.  This should be avoided at all costs.  No one knows what your life’s purpose is, or how your time should be spent more than you.

The first thing I did with this closet was to give it a purpose.  Since the Sunday School committee and the Discipleship committee and the Financial committee and the Committee on Committees committee couldn’t agree on sharing monies and supplies, the closet’s purpose was to be a storage of arts and crafts supplies for the teacher of the Sunday night discipleship class.

When you give something a purpose, Say It Out Loud.  Say it with Confidence.  Don’t listen to nagging voices, or doubts.  Determine what you want and set out to get it.  Saying it out loud is just an affirming way of agreeing with yourself.  Saying it with Confidence lets everyone else know that you mean business and it’s time to get the HECK out of your way.

In order to organize a drawer, for example, first you give it a purpose, and then fill it with ONLY the items that fulfill that purpose.  A kitchen drawer purposed with storing tableware cannot store receipts, rubber bands, vitamins, or wash cloths.  The same thing applies to our hours and days.

Start with a clean slate.  Using an empty calendar, block out the time you spend at work (or in class) and then examine the time you have available.  This is YOUR time.  Set a purpose for those blocks of time that belong to you: Family Time, Writing Time, Exercise, Hobby Time, On-line Business Time, Meeting Friends, Prayer and Meditation Time, Quiet Time – the options are up to you.

Let’s see what you are going to do!!! I bet you’ll do something Wonderful!

2. Throw Away the Junk

Our closet had become filled with 100% Junk which did not match its PURPOSE.  Time can quickly be filled up with Junk activities that do not match our purpose or goals. All that Junk needs to be thrown away.

For example, has Family Time become littered by interrupting texts or notices? Throw that away – turn off the T.V., phones and devices during Family Time, sleep your computer, close that laptop.  Stare at each other, pull out a board game, play 20 questions, work on a puzzle, play charades, get outside for a walk, toss the ol’ pigskin, make a salad, create a movie together and then watch it (so much better than T.V.).

Responsibilities getting in the way? Laundry’s got to be done, and dinner cooked: Delegate. Do you have a teenager? Why are you doing laundry when you’ve got a teenager? Teach your teenager to do the laundry instead.  It takes more time up front, but in the end you will be freed up to use your time working on your goals, or spending time with family.

Family means we all chip in.  Each and every time you make dinner or work on chores, have your child or teen work with you.  Teach them how to clean, sort laundry, and cook simple meals.  “I scrub -you scrub – we all scrub together.”  Try this as your new family motto.  Even if they are too young to do a ‘good’ job, they will learn a good work ethic and gain from the quality time you are spending together.  As you clean and cook you have time side by side to talk and learn more about one another.  Try it.

There are a lot of junk activities that can steal away our time – think about what you are doing and question it by comparing them to your goals and purpose.  If they do not help you achieve your goals or purpose then it is time to throw that activity away.

For me, junk activities can be: social media, watching series on Netflix, movies, shopping, and Pinterest.  There.  That’s my confession.  Now you know EVERYTHING about me.

3. Label and Organize

As with closets, our time needs to be labeled and organized.  Once you’ve determined your purpose, and created space in the day to work on your goals, sit down and determine the steps needed to accomplish them.  No one sits down to write a book, that’s the end result of many tiny steps.  Lose weight?  Too general.  Instead, think of small chunks, tiny steps, easy to handle micro-challenges.

For example, instead of ‘work on my book’, or ‘write chapter one,’ fixate on something specific such as: list possible outcomes for the main character.

4. Lock the Door

After the church closet had been named, cleaned out, and organized it was time to add the last finishing touch – a lovely, new, shiny, gold LOCK.  I gave the key to the teacher.

You’ve set a purpose for your time, you’ve gotten rid of the meaningless distractions, and gotten organized, now DEFEND your TIME with ALL YOU’VE GOT.

You can’t stay late at work – you’ve got appointments, you’ve got a dinner date, you have a life, a family, a dog that needs walking and so, like I’ve stated before – Start on Time, Leave on Time.

Almost Time to Say Goodbye

While cleaning out the closet, I came across some old denominational magazines and newsletters published the YEAR I WAS BORN.  After that, something did not feel quite right, to me.  I stared at the date, for what felt like forever, in a moment that was so surreal that I could feel my body tingling from head to toe.  I remember thinking, “This is not what I was born for.”

We may love our jobs, and feel we were ‘born for this’, but even so, your life is more than what you do at work, and taking care of your responsibilities.

‘Human’ means all of these things: thinking, emoting, feeling, praying, singing, working, splashing around in mud puddles, cooking, talking, running, biking, planting, harvesting, sharing, cleaning, bathing, celebrating, worshiping, love-making, parenting…I’m sure you can add to the list.

Yes, you need money.  Yes, you need to mow your lawn. Yes, you need to pay bills, but you also need quiet time alone.  You need quality time with loved ones.  Be careful that, in seeking success, you do not deny or forget  to take care of your ‘soft’ needs.  When they are not met, everything else falls apart: you lose motivation, lose the ability to concentrate, begin to react negatively to setbacks, and lash out at those you love and care about so much.  Don’t forget to LIVE your life…



I hope this has been insightful.  So much has been given to me, so many people have ‘shared the light’ and helped me on my way, that I want to give in return.

I’d love to hear from you.  Please share your own time saving tips or anything you’d like to share below in the comments.  Don’t forget to hit the Like and Follow button, especially if you found this helpful.  I hope it was.

My salad’s all gone.  That was delicious.  Now, for dessert!




Management Mantras for Teachers

from Google Images

Hello! Thank you for visiting my site.  I’m really thankful for the likes and follows.  Seriously.  This is my therapy. It’s fun to share my stuff with others, hoping that it is helpful in some way, and receive positive feedback in return.  You deserve chocolate.  I mean that.  Go eat some chocolate Right NOW!!! You didn’t really need my permission, but you have it. You’re welcome.

For those of you who have been following and reading my blog for a while (You SERIOUSLY deserve chocolate), I mostly write poetry, but sometimes I jump into the Prose Party.

Party Hat Time!!!

Earlier this summer, I posted a blog about the importance of rest.  It was so much fun to write, and I want folks to know that I PRACTICE WHAT I PREACH Homes.  This has been a very restful summer for me.  I hope it has been restful for you as well.  Following the three tips to a restful summer has paid off.  I feel my motivation and general MOJO returning stronger each day.

Today, I’m sitting in my new apartment about a week from starting back teaching in a new school year, and I’m thinking about the stuff I’d like to improve/do differently. I think I’m a hard worker, and I get a lot done, but I’m not one of those teachers who works through the summer, and puts in a ton of extra hours during the school year.  I used to be, for many years, until I found myself burned out beyond the point of recognition.  The root cause of my burn out was partly working too much, and partly health issues which lead to fatigue and depression.

I received some great advice from a friend to help me both keep my job (Yay! Gotta pay those bills!) but also work less, so that I could rest and deal with my health.  Props to you BRO.  You are the BEST.  You DESERVE Chocolate!  (Crowd Cheers! Confetti Fun! Everyone stares in joyful amazement!)

My friend is not a teacher; he is a business manager.  SURPRISE! The same management skills that lead to success in Business can lead to success in Teaching.

Here are a few of the Management Mantras that he shared with me.  These have helped me MOST PRODIGIOUSLY.  Adding them to my Pedagogy has improved my Happy Teacher OMs.  I hope they are helpful to you, as well.  Also, keep in mind that I am not claiming to be a management expert.  I’m a fun-loving, creative, free soul, who sometimes can find what I’m looking for on my desk, so please, PLEASE, feel free to share your own tips in the comments below.

1st of all: Be on Time and Leave on Time

The first thing my friend said to me was: Do not work overtime. Do not go in early or stay late.  We might think working extra hours looks good, but it can actually be quite harmful to your career.  Doing these three things signals to your boss that you are not using your time wisely. It sparks competiveness amongst co-workers that hinders team work. Working too much also can lead to poor health and lowers job satisfaction.  Get your work completed during the hours of the day that you are being paid to work.  A 7:30 AM – 3:30 PM work schedule means, “work from 7:30 to 3:30,” and then GO AWAY.  Work that you haven’t finished by 3:30 PM must wait to be completed the next business day.

This is pretty stupid advice for a teacher, right? Because teaching is a job that NEVER QUITS.  Which is also why this is FREAKING. AMAZING. ADVICE for a teacher, and I recommend you try it on for a bit.  You’ll love it.  Trust me.

In the beginning of my career, I was one of those teachers who worked, literally, ten to twelve hour days.  I worked on Saturdays and Sundays, too, grading papers and writing lesson plans, so you can imagine that I felt it was asking a lot to expect me to finish and leave work on time.  Not go in on the weekend? Pfffftttt!  Psych! What?

The first day that I put this lil bit of ‘how to’ into motion, I discovered something WONDERFUL!  I discovered there is more to life than work.  The next morning, I went into work anxious, feeling a bit like a slacker, but guess what? Everything was more than fine.  The building hadn’t collapsed or burned down in the night.

I still had the same cycle of papers to grade, paperwork, and lesson plans to tackle, except I worked harder to make sure I got finished what needed to be done before I left at 3:30 PM. This means keeping an up to date calendar with highlighted deadlines.  A routine to quickly complete daily end of the day tasks brought the MAGIC.  Add to this routine the work of preparing for tomorrow’s lessons before you leave.  Delegate everything you can possibly delegate to an aide, volunteer, or student.

Do the job of Teaching to best of your ability, managing your time wisely, accomplishing your responsibilities as much as possible in the allotted time, and then GO the Hell HOME.

Next:  Eat Lunch Hamsa

Why are you not eating lunch? Here is a true conversation I overhear often in the teacher circle:

Beautiful Teacher A: “I NEVER eat lunch!”

Beautiful Teacher B: “Me EITHER!”

Beautiful Teacher C:”Who has time for lunch?”

Me.  I have time for lunch, because I MAKE time for lunch.  My body, and my brain need fuel in order to do the job of teaching, and so does yours, because teaching is physically, emotionally, and mentally demanding.

I cannot say that I have ever truly been guilty of this.  I am an eater.  I LOVE food.  I’m Italian, so it’s part of my culture.  Appetite for life, for love, equals an appetite for food.  The three are as intertwined as the spaghetti noodles on my plate.  I only share it here because I have seen teachers skip lunch SO. MANY. TIMES.  This is NEVER good!  Make time for eating your lunch.  If my students are eating, I am eating, too.  Do it. Do it. Do it. or rather: Eat it. Eat it. Eat it.

If you are in a school that does not allow teachers the time they need for eating lunch, you are in a TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, VERY BAD, NO GOOD school.  Leave.  Do not return.  I have worked in a school like this, so I know what I am talking about/what you are going through.  I still made time for lunch. On rare occasions I have finished my lunch in the classroom while my students work, or do silent reading, or play at recess.

I don’t want to be the HANGRY teacher.  I want to be the HAPPY teacher.  EATING means FEEDING your BODY.  This is very important.  How in the giant green blue world are you going to give to your students if you have not supplied your body with the energy needed to do the work of teaching.  Work uses Energy; Energy comes from Food.  I could be wrong here, but isn’t this basic science? I cannot stress this enough: EAT YOUR LUNCH!

And last, for now,   Focus on Developing YOU

Your job is nice, your school is great, your boss is AMAZING (Seriously, how does she/he do all that?), but in the end you cannot take it with you.  You might not even be able to take your carefully organized bulletin board border collection.  I know, I know.  I loved mine too.  Well, guess what?  You love your curriculum? Can’t take it.  Love your cabinets with their neatly organized files and boxes that you spent so much time labeling with color and patterned labels for ease of finding that one particular worksheet in a Kindergarten Moment? I’ll give you a ‘like’ and pin a picture of that to my board, but – Can’t take it with you.  What you will take with you is EVERYTHING IN YOUR BRAIN, so spend most of your time and focus on developing YOU. Organizing You. Strengthening You. Improving You. Labeling – Oops, no, don’t label yourself.

We spend so much time perfecting our classrooms, and it isn’t even the MAIN THING.  The main focus of your time and effort should ALWAYS be working your craft.  Draw a big Pie Chart circle on a sheet of paper, mark out 80% of your time, color it any color you choose (I chose YELLOW), and label it: TEACHER CRAFT.

Yep.  I really mean what I’m saying.  80% of your time goes to Teaching, and Developing your Teaching Skills.  The rest, the mumbo-jumbo pile of things others say, think, or expect us to spend our time doing? It gets the 20%.

This means every thing that is teaching or about teaching: reading literature/blogs/books about teaching, watching videos, YouTube, and vlogs re: teaching, and going to conferences centered around the topic of, you guessed it, teaching.  Every lesson you teach, lesson plan you write, the experience you gain through trying new things/ideas/strategies, networking and discussing teaching with other teachers, getting feedback from teaching evaluations, and sharing them with other teachers, learning from one another’s successes and struggles, reflecting on your teaching in your ‘Reflections on My Teaching’ journal.  It all goes into the 80% slice of pie.  Or Cake.  Or Pizza – which ever you prefer.

In closing, do not let anyone define success for you, in or out of the classroom.  If I had a dollar for every time a parent, or well meaning friend tried to tell me how I should conduct business in my classroom.  I’d have a LOT OF DOLLARS!!! In fact, I’d have so many dollars, I wouldn’t have to teach anymore.  I’d retire.

So here’s me sending you blessings on your school year and hoping that the rest of your summer is restful and relaxing and peaceful and wonderful!  You are wonderful, and you can do it!!!

If you liked this article, don’t forget to hit the like button and Follow me! You probably won’t regret it.



Opinionated or Neutral? What is the cost of choosing to stay on the fence?


Hello Everyone! Thanks so much for reading.

Today, I’m writing about a subject we’ve all been bombarded with lately, and so I think it’s an appropriate time in which to offer up my own thoughts, advice, AND OPINIONS, especially since, being a teacher, the future for our younger generation is heavy in my heart and mind.  Dear Young People of the World, this is for you.

I imagine, for those of you who’ve followed this blog during my poetry writing spurts, it’s a bit confusing to find me writing PROSE.  It might help you to think of me as Bi-Prosal, which is kind of like being Bi-Polar, only with writing.  I write mostly poetry, but sometimes I trip on my own two feet, land on my face in the dirt, and find it all so funny that I have to pick myself up, re-arrange my pants, and go write about it.

The best part is when I share it with you.

Getting to the point:

Today, I want to write about something that I think is very important for young people to hear.  I feel qualified to offer this based on years of experience as a teacher and minister who has felt PRIVALEDGED and excited, mostly overly caffeinated, but thoroughly BLESSED by the youth I’ve worked with. I’m going to start by telling two quick stories that will explain why I feel prompted to write this today.

Quick Story Number One:

Two days ago, I was shopping for a new shiny toy and, exercising my Dave Ramsey skills, was looking for a deal. Dave Ramsey is a respected financial guru who teaches people how to have success with money.  One of the things he teaches is to NEVER pay full-price for ANYTHING.  This is done by coupon clipping, comparison shopping, sale waiting, and flat out demanding a reduced price.

Those of you who live in other nations of the world and understand bargaining as a necessary part of shopping for goods and services might find it strange that Americans need to be taught how to bargain.  I was determined to practice my new found money saving skillage, but it was a hot, July day in Florida…

debt is dumb

…so I landed my sunburned, dehydrated body in Target, which is the sale shopper’s equivalent of GIVING UP. After chasing down a store employee, I attempted to bargain, “Are there any coupons here that can be used on this purchase? I want a discount.  When will this item be on sale?  Can you reduce the price?” I asked, using my hand full of cash as a fan to cool my poor, fevered, sunburned body.   “It can’t hurt to ask,” I smiled.

Now, let me wrap up Quick Story Number One by telling you the part of this interaction that sparked today’s post.  The store employee, a bright, intelligent young man – the future of our American Dream, apologized.  APOLOGIZED.  He apologized to me, he apologized to the store manager when he called to ask about sale dates, coupons, and discounts, he apologized for what he knew, for what he didn’t know, he even apologized to the item in my hands, as if it had anthropomorphized…IDK, maybe a Pokémon was standing on top of it…

I wouldn’t have been surprised if he’d apologized for breathing air, which is sad since I’d been so nice to him, and have NO problem breathing air myself ( I highly recommend it).

I left the store, without any discounts, after about a million apologies and the part that bugged me was not the no-discount part.  It was all of the apologizing, as if asking questions about sale prices is wrong, as if calling the manager is against the rules, as if he were embarrassed to work, as if the job wasn’t to talk to customers at all; just ring up their purchases and take their money.

I remained calm and polite during our conversation about the purchase price without raising my voice, and said “Thank you,” with a smile when I left.  Even if I had yelled and lost my temper, which I hadn’t, I see no reason for his apologies.

Young people, why are you apologizing?

Quick Story Number Two:

Puzzling over all the, “I’m sorry this,” and “I’m sorry that,” reminded me of a reaction I experienced from one of my former students.  This young person was the TOP student in her class.  She was intelligent, bold with her style choices, artistic, and not afraid to try new things.  One day, she showed support for a controversial point of view.  I liked her take on the subject, and I told her so; “That’s an interesting angle I had not considered.  Thanks for sharing.”  She immediately began back tracking; “I’m sorry,” she said, “I shouldn’t be so opinionated.”  Really?

We are all bombarded by political opinions, radical religious views, and hash tag movements.  The media is full of news stories related to poor decisions made by groups and individuals who claim to be acting on these beliefs, but…

What is wrong with having an opinion?

Have an opinion, please!  Have any opinion.  Have a half-baked opinion.  Have an opinion that’s so crazy it has to be high and on drugs.  Try some impossible opinions.  Sometimes, just for kicks, try an old-fashioned opinion.  Change things up and argue for your opponent’s opinion from time to time – strengthen your beliefs; test them out.  Play “Devil’s Advocate” – make it your new hobby.  Back up your opinions and beliefs with facts, or supporting information, and form an educated, informed opinion.


I think this comes from a fear of making mistakes, or of offending somebody, and I think we need to get over it, so let’s play a game: Let’s pretend you, or I, have the wrong opinion.  Let’s pretend we offend somebody with our very wrong opinion.  Play out the scenario in your mind of expressing your horrendous, misguided opinion to an angry person who becomes so offended by your belief that he/she explodes in a fit of rage.  Let your imagination run wild.  Imagine the worst possible outcome.  What happens? They: storm off, cuss you out, threaten you, tell you where to shove it, and then the world keeps moving on.

Now let’s ask a question: Which is worse? To live a long, safe life of never taking a stand or losing your life fighting for a noble cause?

neutral stance

People with bad/wrong/unjust opinions are not afraid to share them and they don’t care if they offend anyone, so why should you, intelligent, aspiring, ambitious, wonderful you, be afraid to share your beliefs?

There is a lot that is wrong with our world, but I believe we have what it takes to make it a better one.  Do not apologize for your presence or ideals.  Square your shoulders, straighten your back, lift your head, smile, and calmly state your opinion/belief/idea without apologizing.  You cannot break the world by doing so – it is already broken.  Who knows, you might end up fixing it.



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