The Myriad Merits of Meticulousness

The desire to get things right comes from seeing potential everywhere they look.

True confession: More often than not, I get on people’s nerves. I’m only just now starting to figure that out in my late 50’s. (More about how I gained this insight in a subsequent post.)

For now, suffice it to say that I have been called anal retentive, nitpicky, the complainer, the troublemaker and the squeaky wheel all my life. I’m told I ask too many questions. I prefer seeing myself as someone who pays incredible attention to detail, and is constantly looking for ways to allow people to work smarter, not harder.

My thought process always begins by asking myself how something can be made better, even if it’s just by planting the right plants to attract the type of bees that you need to pollinate your crop. I’m fine with you setting the goals. I’m all about coming up with ways to best meet those goals. That, to me, doesn’t seem irritating.

I’m not into criticizing people, but my suggestions are often taken as criticisms. This never fails to surprise me, because I wouldn’t make suggestions if I couldn’t see the ability in people to carry these suggestions out. I think everyone, including myself, is capable of more.

I am fascinated by processes and procedures. I don’t focus on outcomes nearly as much as I quickly perceive all the steps that it took to reach those outcomes and spot the shortcuts that could be made. I don’t see anyone as the owner of these steps, whether they’re flawed or not. I’m not looking to assign blame or make accusations. I just want to make things better.

I genuinely believe that if you take care of the trees, the forest will take care of itself. But there is a reason I’ve avoided the hobby of growing and training bonsai. I suspect that if I ever got into the bonsai zone, I’d experience such bliss that I’d forget to eat and quickly waste away. But I’d leave behind one heck of a bonsai.

Striving for perfection can, indeed, feel blissful. It sometimes requires that you think outside of the box. Innovation, if logical and understandable, is usually beneficial. It might take some extra effort to set up new processes at first, but it the long run, they’ll save time, money, confusion, and maybe even lives.

At worst, people carry on with flawed policies without thinking about them. They’re in a rut, they’re just going with the flow, or they’re not ones to speak up about practices that could stand improvement. Or perhaps they once cared enough to suggest improvements, but they’ve given up because they have been shot down too often, and speaking from experience, that can be maddening.

Nothing sets my teeth on edge more than being told, “we’ve just always done it this way.”

But is that way logical? Is it ethical? Is it the fastest, safest, most efficient way? Has it kept up with the times? Is it easy to understand and implement consistently? Can you explain the reasoning behind it?

I struggle to understand why others fail to see that details matter. If we all know that the data being collected is flawed or unnecessary, wouldn’t it be better to find a more accurate way to collect it, or, better yet, stop collecting it entirely? “Because I said so” doesn’t cut it for me. If you can’t tell me why, I tend to think, “Why bother?”

Managers, in particular, cannot stand me. They wish I would just shut up and do my job. They can’t understand why “it ain’t broke” doesn’t mean it can’t be improved. They want people who keep their heads down and maintain the status quo. They hate change, because they think it will look like they’ve been doing something wrong all along. They’re invested in stagnation because it’s predictable. They aren’t really looking for team players as much as they seek compliant cogs.

The funny thing is that on the rare occasion that someone actually follows one of my suggestions or listens to one of my questions and take it into account, they tend to be grateful that they did in the long run. Often, I can point out things that need clarification so that massive mistakes aren’t made. Gathering the specifics, when possible, goes a long way toward efficiency. I have cut many a problem off at the pass by tending to the specifics.

Meticulous people are often the most safety-oriented people in your organization. They also tend to be excellent trainers, because they are thorough. And they are the perfect people to provide stellar customer service, because they go above and beyond and are constantly focused on ways to provide the best quality for their customers.

If you allow your employees to take initiative, make suggestions, and, yes, pick those nits, in the end they make you look good. With a meticulous person proofreading all your copy, for example, you can rest assured that all the t’s are crossed and the i’s dotted. They will ensure that you meet your goals. They get things right, on time, and as promised. They also keep accurate records and write detailed reports.

I view my meticulousness as a valuable skill set. At the same time, though, I avoid supervisory roles because I want to continue to use my force for good. In a supervisory role, I could quickly become a micromanager. I’ve had my share of those, and I chafe under their scrutiny.

While I’m all for picking a good nit, micromanagers lose sight of the reason, the logic, and the end goal of making things better for all concerned. Instead of focusing on improvements and efficiency, they fall in love with that heady feeling of control and superiority. They think they can only maintain that twisted high by making those around them seem incompetent and inferior. No thank you. I’ll pass. There are other details that I’d much rather pay attention to.

All I ask is that the next time you get irritated by the meticulous people in your life, please consider reframing your perception. They don’t want to be the burrs in your saddle. They want to be the wind beneath your wings. Listen to what they have to say. They’ll help you reach the highest of heights.

Read any good books lately? Try mine!


Hunkered Down and Bored Silly? Here Are Some Ideas.

I’m going nuts with boredom.

So here we are, all sheltering in place as much as humanly possible. It’s the smart thing to do. Stay safe, everyone, and wash your hands.

As an introvert, I thought I would cope better with the situation than I am. But it turns out that it’s one thing to hang out at home alone when it’s your choice, but quite another when it isn’t. Bottom line: I’m going nuts with boredom.

While casting about for something to do, I decided to consult that font of all human knowledge: my Facebook friends. From them I received a lot of great ideas. They seem to break out into several categories.

If you have any additional ideas, please add them to the comments!


  • Assemble a puzzle.

  • Play a board game.

  • Play cards. Maybe even teach yourself a new card game from on line.

  • Read that book that’s been on your nightstand for 6 months.

  • Garden

  • Build something.

  • Create something.

  • Cook something.

  • Exercise.

  • Play fetch with your dog.

  • Paint.

  • Hike in a remote area.

  • Binge watch TV.

  • Take a hot bath.

  • Pamper yourself.

  • Talk to loved ones on phone or skype.

  • Feed the birds.

  • Make candles.

  • Get a jump on your homemade Christmas presents.

  • Knit or crochet or sew.

  • Do a renewed push on those New Years Resolutions that you’ve already abandoned.

  • Blog.

  • Write.

  • Make your own jewelry.

  • Meditate.

  • Take a nap.

  • Listen to podcasts.

  • Join a virtual book club, or create your own with friends.

  • Create a treasure hunt for a family member.

  • Listen to music and dance.

  • Read my book and start a gratitude practice.


  • Watch some documentaries.

  • Read! Read! Read!

  • Update your web presence.

  • Take an online class.

  • Learn a musical instrument.

  • Learn to play chess.

  • Find a new charity to promote/support.


  • Cancel all those pre-COVID reservations.

  • Do your spring cleaning early.

  • Kick a bad habit.

  • Get rid of clutter.

  • Fix what’s broken.

  • Update your resume.

  • Reorganize your closets.

  • Do some yard work.

  • Do the long neglected things on your to do list.

  • Organize your photos.

  • Rearrange your furniture.

  • Wash your windows.board games

Why I Could Never Be a Life Coach

I’m too used to being ignored.

You’d think that being a life coach would be the perfect job for me. If you’ve read this blog with any frequency at all, you can see that I’m chock full of advice. I can figure out how to solve every problem on earth except my own.

What I seem to lack is the ability to persuade people to take my advice. Nobody listens. This is where my life coaching skills fall flat.

Because of this, I’m getting much better at only proffering ideas when asked. If someone comes to me with a problem, I am thrilled to put my thoughts out there, but more and more I’m learning that most things are best left to the ring master of the circus in question.

When someone does share a dilemma with me, and I give my advice, it comes as a profound shock to me that they think there’s any pressure applied from my end. Take it or leave it. I’m too used to being ignored to be overly upset when I am, in fact, ignored. It’s expected, actually.

So while the whole Life Coach idea has its appeal, I think I better just stick to my day job, and keep my suggestions within the confines of this blog.

Life Coach

An attitude of gratitude is what you need to get along. Read my book!

My 2000th Blog Post

Well, holy moly! When I started this daily blog back on December 1, 2012, I would have never guessed that I’d still be going strong 2000 posts later. It’s hard to believe I’ve had 2000 things to say, and that I’m rapidly approaching 200,000 views by 110,000 visitors. A conservative estimate suggests I’ve written over 830,000 words.

I couldn’t have done it without you, dear reader. What has kept this blog so vibrant and interesting for me, especially on days when writer’s block was crushing me like a bug, is your feedback and suggestions. Without that input, I’d feel as though I were typing into a void.

I’ve also made quite a few friends on this forum; people from all over the world. Drawbridge Nation feels like a small, friendly town to me, one that I get to walk through every day. I even think that reading my blog is what finally convinced my boyfriend that I was relationship-worthy, so, yay, there’s that, too!

Because of this blog, I’ve written a book, and am working on a second one. I’m very proud of that. It feels like a tiny bit of immortality for someone who chose not to have children.

I’ve even been recognized on the street a few times, which astounds me. I’m used to thinking of myself as relatively invisible, not, as one reader once described me, “a sort of famous person”.

So I just wanted to thank you for indulging in my random musings, and I hope you’ll stick around for my 4000th post! Meanwhile, I think I deserve a cookie.


21 Sleep Tricks

I worked the graveyard shift for 13 years. I don’t recommend it. Your whole life begins to revolve around the desperate pursuit of sleep, and you turn into one of those people who curse your neighbors for mowing the lawn. It’s not a good look.

When I think about how I used to cry as a child when I was told it was bedtime, it makes me laugh. Now I’m more apt to cry when I can’t sleep. I’d rather sleep than just about anything else these days. It doesn’t cost a thing, and you feel great afterwards. There are very few things in life that you can say those things about.

That being said, I’ve picked up quite a few sleeping tricks over the years. Some of them involve taking supplements or the like. Please know that I’m not a doctor, and I strongly urge you to consult one before adopting any of these methods. Everyone’s physiology is slightly different, and as the saying goes, your results may vary.

So, in no particular order, here are 21 tricks to help you sleep.

Exercise. Often I can’t sleep because I’m full of nervous energy. But I have noticed that I always sleep better on days when I’ve exercised. Even if all you do is take a 20 minute walk, you’ll reap many benefits, including a better night’s sleep.

Yoga. I’ve discovered that a simple gentle yoga routine makes me sleep like a baby.

Raise your legs. I have a friend who swears by this. She says it has something to do with the fact that your blood is pooling in the area around your stomach. Worth a try.

Meditation. Quiet your mind and your body will soon follow. At least that’s been my experience.

Relaxing sounds. You can find all sorts of free recordings on Youtube that are 8 to 12 hours long, and designed specifically to help you relax and/or sleep. Here’s my favorite at the moment: Tibetan Healing Sounds #1.

Sex. This seems to work wonders for men in particular. (Ladies, you know exactly what I’m talking about.) But as a woman, I’ve also found that I have a much easier time falling to sleep if I’m smiling and feeling loved. Something to think about.

Get a Chillow. Sometimes I can’t sleep because it’s just too darned hot. After hearing me grumbling about this, a friend recommended that I get a Chillow, and since I trust her implicitly, I did. And these things work wonders! If your head is cool, the rest of you feels cool as well. They also are great for people who suffer from hot flashes. My friend recommends the Mini-Chillow, and urges you to get the name brand, not the cheap knock-offs, because they last longer, and you don’t really need a large one.

Breathe through your left nostril. This is a yoga trick. If you lie on your left side and hold your right nostril closed, it is amazingly relaxing. You have to try it to believe it.

The 4-7-8 breathing trick. While researching this blog entry, I kept coming across this trick. It seems that a lot of people swear by it. It’s a little too complicated to go into here, but click on the link. I’m going to try this next time I have trouble sleeping. I’m all for a non-medicinal method!

First sleep, second sleep. I’m lucky enough to have a relatively flexible sleep schedule, so of all the methods I mention, this one works best for me. I also happen to find it fascinating. A few years ago I came across several articles such as this one. It seems that historians kept encountering mentions of first sleep and second sleep as recently as the 1700’s. They came to realize that cramming all your sleep into a single 8 hour period is an artificial construct that came about with electric lighting. Once we were able to illuminate more of the day, we started stuffing more activities into it, and giving ourselves ever-shortening windows of opportunity to sleep. Before that, people naturally slept for a period of time, say 4 to six hours, then got up when their bodies told them to, and talked or made love or did light activities for an hour or so. Then they went back to sleep for a couple hours. Ever since I’ve started doing this, I’ve felt a lot more rested in the morning. It’s tragic that the lives most of us currently live do not allow for this adjustment.

Lavender. I don’t know what it is about this smell, but it knocks me out. You can get it in many forms. You can have it in a pillow, or shampoo your hair with it, use it as a lotion or a body spray… whatever works best for you.

Hot Bath. If I’m feeling agitated, a hot bath often calms me down. Sending the message to your body that you deserve pampering never hurts. And if you get some Epsom salts that are infused with lavender, well, that is like a one-two punch.

Warm Milk. Oddly, this has never worked well for me, but I know people who have had great success with it.

Audio Books. When I told a friend of mine that I was writing this blog entry, she told me a trick that she uses. She often can’t sleep because she can’t stop thinking, so recently she decided she needed to distract herself. She began listening to audio books at bedtime. She says it also works when she wakes in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep. Currently she recommends Twain & Stanley Enter Paradise by Oscar Hihuelos.

Stare at a fixed point. Keep staring at it. Don’t let yourself look at anything else. This is a form of self-hypnosis. If you can do this for any length of time and NOT fall asleep, you are a robot.

Write stuff down. Often, I can’t sleep because my brain keeps going over things I’m upset about, or things I’m afraid I’ll forget. When that happens I’ve found that if I write those things down and then tell myself I’ll revisit them in the morning, I sort of give myself permission to “clock out” for the night.

Tryptophan. It’s not just in turkey, and not just for Thanksgiving. Your body requires it, and it’s found in a wide variety of food, including many nuts (and peanut butter), poultry, cheese, red meats, and on and on. And you can also get it in pill form, although I’ve never tried it.

Melatonin. You can get this in the vitamin section of your pharmacy. I use it as a last resort because while it does put me to sleep, it also gives me really strange dreams, and I wake up feeling kind of groggy.

Vitamin D. Now that I’m in the cloudy Pacific Northwest, my doctor discovered that I was not getting sufficient Vitamin D, so she had me start taking a supplement. She recommended that I take it at bedtime, though, because it can make you sleepy. I’m all for killing two birds with one stone.

Marijuana. Okay, first of all, I’m only recommending this in places where it’s legal. Second, it should only be done in moderation, because it can impact your life and your job prospects and your brain chemistry in unpredictable ways. Personally, pot practically sends me into a coma. But it also throws me into a deep dark depression, so it’s not something I want in my life. But if I could get to sleep no other way, I might resort to this now and again.

Yarrow Root. Again, I’ve never tried this, but I have a friend who swears by it.

So there you have it, the results of my years of pursuing the elusive Sandman. May you have sweet dreams and restful nights. And if you have any other tricks, please share them in the comment section!


Note to Self

I was thinking today about all the really good advice/ideas/concepts that I, myself, have ignored in my lifetime. I really ought to write them on little post it notes and stick them up all over my house and review them daily. But that’s another idea that I won’t follow through on.

So without further ado, here are some pearls of wisdom that I’ve cast away at least once in my life.

  • If the little voice inside your head is saying, “Don’t say it. Don’t say it…” Seriously? Don’t.
  • If you’re trying to lose weight, then don’t bring the entire bag of cookies into the TV room with you.
  • There’s really nothing you should say to a police officer other than, “Yes, officer.”
  • If your dog is doing the pee pee dance on your landlady’s carpet, you really need to drop everything and take him for a walk. None of this, “Just give me a minute” stuff. Dogs have their own timetable.
  • If you break up with a guy once, there’s no point in second chances. You’ll only break up with him again sooner or later.
  • If every single solitary person you know tells you that something is a bad idea, oh yeah, it’s a bad idea.
  • Take a picture of your butt when you’re 19, because someday you will miss it.
  • If everyone you know tells you that they don’t like a friend of yours, sooner or later you’re going to discover that the person in question is not a friend of yours.
  • It will never hurt you to actually obey the speed limit.
  • There are, in fact, quite a few situations where it doesn’t pay to give someone the benefit of the doubt.
  • Just get it over with.
  • Never forget that things could always be a whole lot worse.
  • Your dogs will always be better judges of character than you will.
  • If you’re waiting for someone else to make you happy, I hope you brought a really good book with you.
  • It’s a rare occasion when you leave a bar feeling better about yourself.
  • Actually, it is better to hurt someone else’s feelings if it means you’ll stop torturing yourself.
  • Time outs shouldn’t be just for children.
  • If you spent as much time washing your dishes as you do feeling guilty about not washing your dishes, you’d have no dirty dishes.
  • If you have a boss that likes to throw you under the bus, don’t wait until tomorrow to start job hunting.
  • If you’re tempted to say, “You know what your problem is?” Stop right there. It never ends well.
  • There will never be a better time to make love than right this minute.

And on that note, I’ve got to go. 🙂