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Can’t Get it ALL done? No kidding!

Ever feel like you don’t have time to get it all done?    Been there.  I attended a seminar about 10 years ago that literally changed my life.  I learned three major lessons.

1.    Use ONE system….

I used to use multiple systems to stay organized.   I used an electronic calendar but supplemented that with a paper-based system for the national training schedule.  I had multiple pretty notebooks that I took to meetings, post it notes at both of my desks plus a notebook beside my bed for those moments of know the ones that are brightest at 3 am.   It’s not a wonder I was always tired.  I was constantly running through my multiple systems….reviewing, re-reading meeting notes so I wouldn’t forget anything.    My brain NEVER rested.

2.   A brain dump is REQUIRED….

Have you ever ACTUALLY written down everything that needed doing every day?     The most brilliant part of the seminar for me was a facilitated exercise that required me to write down all of the tasks on the list in my brain. He prompted all of us to start from the moment our feet hit the floor in the morning…think about having a shower (need to buy shampoo and toothpaste), getting dressed (I’ll hem those pants, suit to the dry cleaner), then brushing your teeth, having breakfast (need milk, eggs and chicken), get in the car (need an oil change and need gas), drive to the office.    Get your morning coffee.   Now, start with your outstanding items in every one of your projects…..oh dear!

I was literally halfway down Page 3 … the facilitator talked faster and faster…bringing home his point.     Once I realized that my task list was impossible to complete without a disciplined system, I sat back in my chair.    I was so excited that I stayed up very late that evening completing the huge task list, then started to schedule REAL time for everything I had written.   It was still IMPOSSIBLE!     

I re-negotiated some of my internal deadlines, shortened meetings to 45 minutes and stopped attending any without set agendas or clear objectives.   I communicated my epiphany to my team, set clear boundaries and got comfortable with the fact that I would be working through those outstanding tasks for some time.   I became a more efficient employee and became a better manager for my team.  I have no doubt that seminar saved my career and put my life back into balance.     

3.   Have a task list of things you might do someday, or perhaps NEVER at all!!!

As I mentioned, I had a long task list of things that I was unable to schedule that first evening.   I put all those tasks in a “not now” list so that my brain wasn’t a swirling mess of to do’s when my pillow was calling my name.   Interestingly enough, I eventually scheduled and completed every “not now” task on that list.   I felt like I had climbed Everest!   

If you have multiple systems, I urge you to trim to one.    Make a list of things that need doing that are taking up your precious brain power and schedule it….or put it on the  “not now ” task list.   Then sleep well knowing it’s on THE list!

With great love (for technology),


Shirly (Irene) Vanluling

Dandelions and Daisies

You’ve see some old journal entries along the way from my lovely Irene.   She’s been gone for many years but I think about her often and turn to her journal some days when I need a little song in my heart.  From the rainy day after school with my feet in the oven, delivering dandelions for her kitchen table as wee thing, to naps while she lovingly tucked my blonde hair behind my ear…I still miss her like crazy.

At a recent conference in Sydney, we were all asked  “if you could meet up with anyone….who would it be” my answer was (and always is) Irene.    I could easily have picked an artist, a great musician, a historical figure…..but  nothing would make me happier than sitting down with a cup of tea, some biscuits and a quiet afternoon catching up on all that she’s missed.

The flower delivery continued yesterday, clutched in Noah’s little hands pushed lovingly upwards.   My heart filled with love for this sweet boy who had no idea that some daisies picked off the side of the road, could totally make my day and bring me back to some very sweet memories.

This is me, sending love, love, LOVE!    I have to give some away, my heart is currently overflowing!

With great love (for this child),


Shirly (Irene) Vanluling

flowers from Noah

My Burden is Light

We were prepared for a long day.

Two friends in two different cities, with two different health concerns coming to very serious medical interventions.   Today we are reminded of, and even grateful for, our own very light burdens.

The day started honestly enough with a fire alarm at 5:30 am.   If you’d like to check to see if your heart medication is working, THIS is a brilliant way to get started.   Haha.  Bolt upright.  Confused.   Alarmed.   Now don’t fret.   We already knew that there’s something wrong with the smoke detectors in the house and had investigated various causes and solutions.   They go off randomly for about 5 seconds, then quietly resume their normal function.  You can bet that the “replace the smoke detectors” is now on the top of the list of things to do.

I wasn’t going to sleep much longer anyway.    As I awaited news from my bestest, I was a restless, uneasy mess.   Technology to the rescue!    For the next 8 hours we chattered through the hours of waiting, waiting and more waiting.  It was as good for me as I expect it was for her.

DABb2778SY4Surgery that was to have ended at noon, finally came to a close around 2pm with news that all was well.   No complications.   No four hour drive needed.   It was time to unpack the “just-in-case-I-need-to-leave-in-a-hurry” bag.  Thank goodness!

The other friend is a strong strapping fella capable of moving ANY obstacle in his way.    A fierce protector of his family and strong man on the farm.    This man was reduced to unbearable pain and agony after injury incurred while serving our country.   It’s going to be a long road of recovery but we pray for strength and for endurance for the days that are coming.   As the doctors dig towards diagnoses and treatment, we stand with you as family.

It’s been a true day of reflection.   With health concerns of those I love, along with the chaos of the world around me, I’ll gladly carry my light burdens without complaining.

I’m so very grateful for His blessing on a difficult day, for the prayer chain that lifted our friends to Him and for His steadfast love for His children, including little old me…his sparrow.

With great love (for others),


Shirly (Irene) Vanluling

Irene Byers – Journal – January 24, 1975

I have such loving memories of Irene.   From warming me in a chair in front of the oven after a rainy day….bringing her endless bouquets of dandelions (that she always put in a vase on the kitchen table with great joy)…falling asleep in her lap while she tucked my hair behind my ear …sigh. I miss her still.

Irene wrote daily in a journal that I pick up with loving remembrance.    It spans nearly 10 years (March 31, 1973 to September 26, of 1982) and includes “facebook posts” in her glorious handwriting. I’m really hoping that mom forgets that I have it.  I do suppose that particular cat is out of the bag now.

As you get to know me, you will also get to know Irene.  I’ll share what she ate, the weather and what she cleaned or baked that day.    I really should dig up the recipe for her biscuits and put on a pot of tea.   Mom!!!!!!  I need to “borrow” the recipe book too please!  :)

Irene Byers – Journal Entry- January 24, 1975
Shirly here early, then went with her mother shopping.  I made lemon pudding and ham casserole for dinner.  Don Vinkles here in evening for cards.  George had gas, burping all night.

With great love (for this lovely lady, and poor George),


Shirly (Irene) Vanluling

Welcome to Vintage Concierge…

Welcome to Vintage Concierge.   This little endeavour is inspired by dad’s legacy of “digging out” (Brink’s Excavating) merged with my personal passion for putting things where they belong.  :)

May you find inspiration to “dig out” from what burdens you so that you can find joy in every moment of each glorious day.

With great love,


Shirly (Irene) Vanluling


Hi, I'm Shirly