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by Rebecca Escoft
Extension Home Economist
For Lehigh County
Making First Things First
I just got back from a profes
sional conference in Kansas. The
theme of the conference centered
on The Wizard of Oz, and the
Anal speaker did an eloquent job
of teaching us lessons about life
through the characters in the story.
Well one that impressed me was
his comments about the “flying
We all have flying monkeys in
our lives—unexpected, some
times scary, events that dart at us
and pull us off track. They are
bound and determined to keep us
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from reaching the goals we have
set. Now, of course, we’re not on
a quest to find a witch’s broom,
but we are on other quests. Your
quest may be finding a new job or
spending more time with a child
who lacks confidence. It may be
to run for a school board seat or to
quilt a blanket for a new grand
Whatever the goal, flying mon
keys have a way of swooping in
and taking us off track.
In his book, First Things First,
Stephen Covey talks about the
importance of devoting energy to
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the important aspects in our lives.
He cautions that we not let urgent
demands distract us from impor
tant goals. How are you doing
keeping your first things as a top
Researcher Joan Kofodimos
studied many working adults and
developed worksheets to help
them see if they had balance in
.their lives. Here’s a portion of one
quiz that she used to measure if a
person is spending an unhealthy
amount of time focusing on work.
How many of the following ques
tions would you check off?
• I put more thought into my
work than I do into my personal
• I eat on the run.
• I find myself thinking about
work (farm operation) while I’m
doing leisure activities.
• I keep promising myself that I
will cut down on working, but I
don’t do so.
• I work (farm) harder when
things are not satisfying in my
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• I don’t spend much time in
conversation and interactions with
family and friends.
These are a few of the state
ments that indicate someone is
having difficulty balancing time
and energy between personal and
work responsibilities. Unfortu
nately families suffer and mar
riages suffer when this occurs.
In order for marriages and
friendships to survive and thrive,
people must commit time and
energy to them. So often we see
work as an unavoidable obliga
tion, but our “job” as a mom,
friend, son, or husband are not
treated with the same seriousness.
If you really want to make
your commitment stick (in spite
of the flying monkeys that attack
and try to pull you off track),
Kofodimos suggests that you
make the commitment public.
Tell others. Specifically schedule
time for the chosen priority; make
Co.) Birth Care and Family
Health Services will offer a free
program “Alternatives in Natural
Childbirth” on Thursday, October
27 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Topics
of discussion will include Birth
Center, home and hospital birth
options, safety statistics, insur-
ance reimbursement information,
Birth Centers were found safe
for low-risk women in a recent
national study and the cost-effec
tive care offered by nurse mid
wives is receiving favorable atten
tion from insurance providers.
this a non-negotiable calendar
item. You may actually want to
create an activity that would force
you to fulfill the time. For
instance, I like to host a “Ladies’
Day Out” at my home which
forces me to spend some time
with girlfriends that I enjoy. If I
didn’t schedule the “event,” my
time would slip by without a visit.
Finally, spend time with peo
ple who will encourage you to
stick to your priorities. If you
spend time with workaholics,
you’ll probably start to behave
like them. If you share ideas with
people who do special things with
their families, you are likely to do
those same things yourself.
Keeping first things first is a
challenge. Take some time this
week to ask yourself hard ques
tions about whether the things
you say you value are really get
ting the best you have to offer in
time and energy.
Speakers will include Certified
Nurse Midwife Rita Rhoads Mar
tinez, founder of Pennsylvania’s
first Birth Center, Birth Care nurs
ing staff, and clients who have
experienced a variety of birth
Tours of the Birth Center will
be given from 6:00 to 7:00 p m.
Refreshments will be served and
door prizes awarded. The program
will start at 7:00 p.m. and will be
followed by an informal discus
sion and questions.
The Birth Center is located at
1180 Dry Wells Road, Quar
ryville, Pa. For more information
or directions, call (717) 786-4010.