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Learn From My Summer Experience

Did you do what you hoped during the warmer months? Lots of warm days remain, so get out your calendar.

Since much of creating an organized life results from forecasting and preparation, I want to share my unique summer experience with you.

It will make your life easier while traveling and in general.

I didn't plan on being in Albuquerque from May until July.

I thought perhaps 1-2 weeks, but it morphed into months. We can't predict what life will toss our way.

It wasn't a leisurely vacation, though. We welcomed two new little family members, Finneas and Darby, and it was all hands on deck.

From weather to food, New Mexico is very different from living in Pennsylvania and heightened my awareness of my surroundings and what I took for granted before traveling.

New experiences change perspectives.

Being decades past raising my kids, I have a profound appreciation for the relentlessly hard mental and physical work babies and children require. I have new benchmarks for being tired and sore.

Prematurity adds layers of fear, expense, and upset to the exhaustion of caring for two infants. The stress is enormous.

In addition, one little guy developed NEC, necrotizing enterocolitis, and was in the University of New Mexico hospital for six months, well into the summer.

I was fortunate to be able to help, even though initially I assumed I couldn't. Emergencies invite creative thinking.


There was a lot of time to think and observe.

Being confined to a hospital room invites thought, many many long thoughts.

I hope my experience helps you be ready for the inevitable life events that remodel your plans.

I'll start with the essentials.

Then I'll follow with general but meaningful actions to make your life easier while traveling or coping with an emergency, whether it's a travel delay, weather, or medical crisis.

I've also included a few New Mexico insider tips.


Take nothing for granted.

Notice and appreciate what you are looking at, for it changes instantly.

Be still for a moment. Look out the window; question what you see. I asked a nurse about the shadow on the western hills. Even as a lifelong resident, she said she hadn't noticed. I told her later it was the Rio Grande Rift.

Drop your shoulders and relax the tension in your face. How does the air feel? Sense the texture of your shirt, the aromas of your beverage, the feel of what's under your feet, and the myriad of sounds around you.

Sometimes the best gift you can give others is asking for help.

Whether to feel in control or to avoid being judged as inadequate, most people avoid asking for much help, myself included.

I won't sugarcoat it: The help I was able to offer my family was stressful.

But the gifts I received by helping my family were far more significant, and I'm grateful they gave me the opportunity.

While I tried my best to be available for clients, sometimes that wasn't possible. I'm grateful to my clients, who gave me the gift of understanding.

I'm grateful for the medical and other professionals that guided us through some difficulties.

Give your family the gift of complete legal documents.

Over the years, our family and many clients have had issues that required me to compile and organize medical, financial, and legal information.

Even with proper documentation, permissions, and professional experience, it's not for the faint-hearted.

It's a nightmare without it.

It's not a bad dream to assemble it, though, especially with help.

I'm challenging you!

You can do this. Maybe not before Fall arrives, but certainly before the year ends, complete your documentation. I can help you; just ask.

At a minimum, you should have:

  • A Will and a letter with your intentions for when you die. Being prepared will not jinx you to an early death, so get to work on this now. Handwritten choices are better than nothing. Otherwise, Aunt Sadie might sprinkle your ashes exactly where you don't want them.

  • Powers of Attorney will help others pay your bills and access your medical records to help you while you're living. I'm not a lawyer, so I can't advise you beyond this. But please, please, please, please discuss this with your family, friends, or trusted advisors.

  • A summary of your online and other accounts, including if your bills are online or on paper.

  • Current identification documents. It's easy to miss license and passport expiration dates, and if you have to travel unexpectedly, well, just think about that.

  • This takes just a few minutes and is invaluable if your wallet is lost or stolen. Copy your wallet contents, front and back and toss the copy in your emergency file.

  • Keep a note in your phone with your car license plate number, insurance policy and doctors numbers, and well, the list can be endless but at least these.


Arrange now for a trusted person to access your home if you are away.

Tell them how to find a key or a door code and how to reach you. Remember to share your home's quirks, like the refrigerator door that tends to pop open unnoticed, or to verify you took the trash out before you left.

Sign up for emailed daily alerts of your mail deliveries.

It's surprisingly helpful to get emailed images of your mail so you don't miss something important. Here's the link: Postal Informed Delivery. If you hold the mail at the post office, a trusted person may not be able to retrieve it for you.

Use remote banking and two credit cards.

Travel is hard enough without inaccurate balances or lost cards. But bringing just one or five cards is courting chaos. If someone uses your lost debit card, your bank balances may be on hold until it's sorted out. Credit cards don't have the same risks.

Create packing lists

Prepared generic lists help when uncertainties or emergencies hijack your mind. Packing your suitcase this way (or rolling) makes it easy to see what you have. Works for dresser drawers too.

open suitcase with folded clothing
A nurse complimented my organized suitcase.

Maintain your daily organizational habits.

  • Tidy your sleeping area, even if it's a couch.

  • Put your clothes away, especially if you're living out of a suitcase.

  • Wash the dishes and take out the trash.

  • Here's a quick reminder list.

Bonus: New Mexico Insider Tips

1. Use lip balm and nasal saline until you acclimate.

2. Ask for Christmas if you want both red and green chile sauces on your food.

3. Yes, chile is spelled correctly.

I'm happy to report that our little guys are doing well.

They're finally reunited!

They told me they want you to enjoy the rest of your summer as much as they are.

They also said to listen to their grandmother because she's been at this a looonnnnggg time and knows what she's talking about.


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