Feeling stressed? Try not to multitask

my mindMy column in the Albert Lea Tribune and the Courier Sentinel the week of November 8, 2018

I am a multitasker. It is a habit I need to break, but it comes so naturally. I do not know I am doing it. Multitasking got me in trouble the other night.

I told my friend Jane I would pick her up for a church event. Later in the afternoon, she and I, and another friend, Julie, were texting about the evening. At the same time, I was texting in another thread with an author friend, and I was also texting with my son. No, I didn’t mix up the texts between threads; I mixed up the texts between people on the same thread.

I thought Jane told me she would meet me at the event. But it was Julie who was driving herself. I saw the J and went with that in my haste of switching between threads not noticing it was Julie, not Jane. I thought it was strange but didn’t take the time to question it.

I arrived at the event, met my other friends and was waiting for Jane. She wasn’t there. Soon my cell phone rang, and it was Jane asking me when I was going to pick her up. I felt horrible that in my multitasking of texting I got the message wrong. Jane, being the nice person she is, forgave me — or at least I think she did.

As I was trying to fall asleep that night, I thought of all the other things I get mixed up or wrong because of my bad habit of doing too many things at one time or hurrying to get something done. It never turns out well, and it is exhausting.

I can’t watch television without doing two things at once. I usually crochet, read or play a few games on my cell phone while watching the telly. My husband is wonderful that he washes his own clothes, (it could have something to do with his “I want it folded this way” fetish), and when he is washing his clothes it is his only task. It is the same with all he does — one task at a time. He doesn’t understand when I tell him he can do more than one thing at a time.

My switcharoo tasking started when my kids were small. All mothers need to have two eyes in front, two eyes in the back and multiple arms, hands, and legs but we don’t, so we do as much as we can in the time allotted to get things done. We pretend we have more appendages because we use them so quickly. The problem is that when we get older such as retirement age, we can’t always stop. Somehow that need is drilled into us, and it takes time after we retire to find that sweet spot of being lazy without feeling as if we are lazy because doing only one thing seems to be the epitome of lying down on the job even when we don’t have one anymore.

And then, it has been drilled into us that we need to be hard workers and have a purpose in life and that, too, is hard to let go of when you get to be my age. Perhaps our purpose has been fulfilled and the only goal we need to have is to enjoy life and let each day take its own course while we meander along the way, living our lives without being on the proverbial multitasking spinning wheel.

There are those who are young and old that enjoy the multitasking busy life. Many older adults will tell you it keeps them young. Many will tell you it puts you into an early grave. I don’t know which is right, I only know the older I become, the harder it is to multitask without committing some real doozies of error.

Relaxing is hard when you see dishes still needing to be done, floors needing to be swept and scrubbed, knowing the next meal is right around the corner. Relaxing is also hard when you have a pile of books to read, magazines piling up, crafts stuck in every corner that you started or were going to do. Who knew fun and hobbies could be so stressful? And then don’t forget all the social events, the requests for volunteer help and visiting children, which also make us a multitasking genius.

The holidays are coming up. We have to multitask right now between turkeys and Santa. Do we grab Christmas as we are grabbing for Thanksgiving when we are in the stores?

I will opt for thankfulness as we settle in for the coming month before we usher in the Christmas hoopla. Maybe if the one task I commit to each day is sitting in silence and being thankful for what I have, what I can do, and ponder why I feel the need to multitask, my stress will settle down.

“Remember that stress doesn’t come from what’s going on in your life. It comes from your thoughts about what’s going on in your life.” — Andrew J. Bernstein

Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Thursday.

Are You A Bully?

Sprinkled Notes by Julie Seedorf

printed in the Albert Lea Tribune and the Courier Sentinel the week of October 25, 2018

IMG_0941I feel old this week, not in terms of years but in terms of muddling through the social landscape. I do not recognize the country I grew up in. Incidents personally and in the news keep me shaking my head in lack of understanding, and I am feeling rage. Rage is not an emotion I have felt very often in my life.

A few events in the past year weigh heavily on my mind and my heart.

Three football players in the area savagely beat and injure one of their teammates who is left with lifelong brain injuries. The incident was filmed on their cellphone. This week it was in the news that the school board hired an investigator to determine whether the district’s actions in the aftermath were in compliance with the Minnesota State High School League. They were found in compliance. Case closed. The boys received minimal sentences for their part in the assault. Meanwhile, the victim and his family had to move out of state because of the friction of opinion in a small community. If you believe the news reports, the parents of the boys committing the assault felt the sentencing was too harsh and the words bandied about, at least in the papers, were “boys will be boys.”

Another scenario played out in another small Minnesota community nearby — a break-in at a home, an assault on a woman and a rape. The perpetrator was caught immediately, but then, of course, he was released on bail and the friends of this person threatened the lives of the victim so much they, too, had to move out of the community for their safety. It was yet another slap on the wrist, even though the intimidation continued.

Another close friend had this experience: The 15-year-old son was bullied, harassed and physically assaulted in their school to the point of injury because of their sexual orientation. They had to leave school to be safe and attend an online school.

And just last week a ninth-grade student commits suicide because of bullying. This young boy is gone, but the people who chose to make life miserable for another will live on to bully another day.

This past year I also did a series on domestic abuse. My friend CeeCee James described her life of abuse as a child in an abusive family. Neighbors knew teachers knew and other family members knew; however, no one spoke out — the silence of their inaction in my mind is deafening.

I see the bullying rhetoric online from adults when they don’t like something: They attack. I can’t help but wonder if these individuals were bullied growing up and haven’t escaped the cycle. Are they providing this environment for their children, which in turn leads to bullying in school because they know no different, and, when confronted, the parents don’t want to admit to it because they haven’t learned how to let go of their fear and anger?

I recently had a conversation with someone who is trying to confront their way of communicating instead of lashing out and calling names and being abusive; they are confronting their past. The person grew up with an abusive father and in looking at the children in the family, the legacy lived on in the way they communicate with others, including those they love. This person feels it is time to break the cycle, but they can’t do it without first taking responsibility for their actions.

In all of these cases, it is the victims who will live with this their entire lives. They have been sentenced; they had to leave their homes, communities, and schools, or they took their life to get away from the pain. And that fills me with rage. And it should fill you with rage, too.

We love our children, but we need to recognize they are not perfect; they will make mistakes, but to grow into an adult they also need to suffer the consequences of their actions so they can grow. We need to teach them bullying toward another is not accepted by anyone. There will be consequences.

You can’t also tell me, teachers, friends, and relatives do not know and recognize who these bullies are. Does it make a difference which side of the tracks you live on? Who you are in the communities and who you know that makes a difference in the belief and the punishment? Are we afraid to speak up because we might lose our jobs defending a student who needs defending? Or do we fear for our well-being if we say something? Ask yourself those questions.

I think a perfect sentence for bullies would not be jail, but years of service in homeless shelters where they would have to live and be under supervision, or mental health facilities, where they must confront those who have been hurt and help them. Not days, but months and years.

And maybe I will get a little political. As both Democrats and Republicans, we need to stand up in our parties and say, “This rhetoric of calling names, demeaning women, lying and being dishonest has to stop. That is not what our party is about, that is not how we want to raise our children, and we are not going to support you if you do this. There are others in our party who do live up to honesty and integrity, and we are going to elect them.”

Responsibility starts at the top and filters down to us as parents and grandparents to stop the pain, to stop the victim from being the one with the sentence. And if you don’t feel rage that all this is happening, then I don’t understand this country anymore.

Check Out 10 Local Authors This Weekend

Sprinkled Notes by Julie Seedorf

Published in the Albert Lea Tribune and the Courier Sentinel the week of October 18, 2018

One of the blessings of writing this column and being an author is meeting my readers. This past weekend I was at the Deep Valley Book Festival in Mankato. I met some fabulous authors and interesting people. This coming weekend the big book event is in Albert Lea.

Sweet Reads Book Store in Austin is sponsoring a book event with 10 southern Minnesota authors at the Interchange Coffee House in Albert Lea on Saturday, and I am one of them.

Small, independent bookstores are making their comeback in our society today, and Sweet Reads is very supportive of local authors. Besides myself, Sherrie Hansen, Sean Williams, Benet Stoen, Judi Bergen, Chris Norbury, Margaret Smolik, Jeffo Oilman, Lydia Emma Niebuhr, and Karl Shaper will be in attendance.

Not only will we be displaying and selling our books, but we will also be on the authoring stage for 20 minutes apiece explaining our various genres and talking about our writing. I get to start off the morning at 10 a.m. and it will be cozy, meaning cozy mysteries. Do you know what they are? I didn’t until I wrote one and was accepted by a cozy publisher, Cozy Cat Press. I was amazed to find out it is a popular category in the fiction world.

Maybe you have heard of us, or maybe these names are new to you. My problem with attending a book event is that I want to buy all of the books. Did I mention I tingle when I am in a bookstore or library? We all know about the New York Times best-selling authors and those from large publishing companies whose names and books are advertised in every magazine and online by their publishing companies. We always tend to gravitate toward these books because we feel they must be the best because we see them front and center constantly in the media.

I encourage you to read authors you have never heard of. I find by taking a chance on an unknown author, I read some of the best literature and novels. The difference between these authors not being recognized is because small publishing companies do not have the capital to advertise, and independent authors also do not have the means of promoting their books because of lack of ways for exposure. It’s work to get your name and book out there. Big stores like Barnes & Noble do not always carry small publishers or independent authors’ books because of return policies. Small publishing houses cannot meet their requirements or they would be out of business. Always ask if you can’t find the book, because they can be ordered from the store on an individual basis.

There are many books by unknown authors that are not on the New York Times best-selling list or have not won any awards but are award-winning reads in readers’ minds. What many do not know is the costs involved for a book to be considered for an award — again, small publishing houses and authors do not have the money to enter their book for the prestigious awards. The same can be said for reviews by esteemed reviewers such as Kirkus reviews. It can cost an author $425 for them to review your book. It may pay off in the end, but many independent authors and small publishing houses, again, can’t afford the cost.

What I am saying is to not write off an author or a book because you don’t see that award sticker or prestigious review on the book. Instead, read online reviews of the book by readers or talk to the author or take a chance on one book —  you may want to buy the next.

Anyone can publish a book these days, and there are those clinkers out there which are badly edited and loosely put together, but I always feel they do not have the support in a good editor — because editors, too, are expensive. But these authors had a dream and their dream has been realized — to see their book in print.

I will never be in the category of William Kent Krueger or Allan Eskens. There is a difference between a great author and a good author. I will put myself realistically in the good author category because some people do like my books. I will never win any awards, as I don’t try for any, but I have been in the top 100 Amazon Cozies with my books and I have been No. 1 occasionally when my new books come out. That is enough for me.

The best reward for my writing is to meet my readers, get to know them and see what they enjoy reading. Their lives count and so do their stories. Every person has a story in their lives. It may yet be written.

Come down on Saturday to Sweet Reads and meet the authors, share your stories and let us get to know who and how we influence your lives. The event is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Interchange. Visit for a short time or stay for the day.

“Authors by the hundreds can tell you stories by the thousands of those rejection slips before they found a publisher who was willing to gamble on an unknown.” — Zig Ziglar

Take a gamble on an unknown