Making time for everyone’s life but her own…

tanya f Alzheimer’s or CRS (Can’t Remember Sh*t)I don’t remember which one I suffer from???? That was the question Tanya asked herself after repeatedly forgetting appointments and double booking events. In the end she discovered it was CRS brought on by a life and day planner filled to overflowing with appointments and schedules for everyone but herself. She’d scheduled herself out of her own life. Today, Tanya talks about how she cured her CRS over a latte and a slice of cake…

I came to the conclusion several years ago that I would end up in a nursing home, babbling about the good old days.  I made my husband promise to wipe the drool from the corners of my mouth and make sure I didn’t look crazy.  I believed I was suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s because I was gradually losing my memory.  At first I blamed it on my pregnancy of my youngest daughter but that was 6 3/4 years ago and its gotten progressively worse.  I would forget my hair & nail appointments, forget to pickup dry cleaning, forget to make doctor’s appointments and call people.  Now, I know what you are thinking – WRITE IT DOWN, MAKE A LIST!  That’s the main problem –  I have always written everything down and plan my life with the Franklin Covey planning system that I have been using  since 1994.  I was only using it for work but about 4 years ago started using it for my personal affairs because  I had pissed many people off because of my forgetful ways.

In the last year it’s gotten so bad that I set reminders in my phone to alarm me every time I need to do something on my To Do list.  I said to myself “Self…you turned forty this year and you are falling apart.  You can’t remember sh*t (CRS).  Go get a CAT scan and see if you have early onset Alzheimer’s.  DONT FORGET!”  I went in for my annual checkup in April (which I almost forgot about but thank God they called me to confirm the day before) and explained my concerns to the doctor.  He asked my family history and ruled out Alzheimer’s.  He started asking me all sorts of silly questions and implied that I “needed to talk to someone.”  We all know what that means – it’s code for Rubber Room, Couch Time, Straight Jacket – the “other” doctor.  I guess I wasn’t getting the CAT scan.  He gave me the number to call and made me promise that I would (I did, but my fingers were crossed behind my back so it doesn’t count).

I debated if I would call the shrink and convinced myself that I wasn’t losing my mind.  However, in August that same year I double booked appointments!  I got the “where the hell are you” phone call while at the 2nd event.  I knew then that maybe I was going crazy and needed to talk to someone and convince the doctor I needed that CAT scan.  I called the number the next day and tried to schedule an appointment with the shrink.  We were on the phone for about 15 minutes trying to figure out when I would come in and then it hit me like a ton of bricks.  I hung up (I told her that I would call her back but it was a big, fat, juicy lie).  I went back over the last year of planning pages in my Franklin Covey (don’t laugh – a lot of people keep their old planning pages & calendars from years back) and a light bulb went on over my head.  My planning pages were filled with every appointment scheduled, every errand that needed to be done and every work related items that needed to be completed but EVERYTHING in those pages had to do with someone else!

Also each day was filled to capacity – all lines were filled!  My planner was filled with kid related events – Christmas concerts, kid doctor appointments, pee wee basketball practice, Girl Scouts, etc.  My personal schedule was not in there!

I immediately went to Starbucks (I think better with a latte), sat down with the planner & pages and thought about all the missed appointments and phone calls and late (and wrong) showings.  Everything missed was MY personal stuff.  How was it that everyone else’s stuff was in MY planner?  I was relieved that I didn’t have early onset Alzheimer’s but pissed that I let myself become last in my own plans.  When I turned  forty, I did an evaluation of my life and the people and things in it.  My schedule was the one thing I didn’t evaluate. I went through it with a fine tooth comb.  I discovered that as my girls have gotten older, their lives have gotten busier; almost as busy as mine.  They had taken over my life…and planner.  I had to take action and fix this problem.  So I sat there with my latte and a slice of lemon loaf (I also think better with desserts) and hashed out a plan.

The end result was that I simplified my schedule.  All kid events are written on a white board in the kitchen.  Every morning, at a glance I know what day what kid has PE, library, practices, dance, Girl Scouts and school activities.  MY planner contains only MY stuff.  I’m even trying to convert myself to fully utilize my Blackberry (hell, I pay enough for it so it should work for me) because I like my calendar alerts and easy internet access.  I haven’t missed anything or been late to anything in several months.  So in the end, I suffered from CRS but with a detailed diagnosis, a latte and a slice of cake, I cured myself.


Tanya’s an “exceptional military wife and extraordinary mother of two who has rediscovered life, love and a new reality” at age forty.  She’s a friend and frequent contributor to Women at Forty.

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Blogger, self-proclaimed-philosopher, voracious eater and opinion sharer.

  • Hi Tanya,

    I know the syndorme well. Glad to hear you cured yourself. In my life, it's been interesting to watch how angry some people get with me when I put my own needs first. Since I wasn't used to putting myself first, this took a bit of an adjustment…but I've done it. I've also gotten clear about the fact that until we put our needs first, no one else will. Congrats!

  • womenatforty

    Great post Tanya. Talk about a light bulb moment. The fact that you were able to look back over the year and actually SEE that you'd excluded yourself was great. I think it's a good practice for all of us to take up. I like the idea of having a calendar/planner dedicated just to me. With the new year just around the corner, this would be a great time to get started.

  • kananipod

    Tanya, your post made me lol!! I totally identify with the list thing, everyone's on there but you. I have to write down “go to bed at 11”, “go for a run” or “vitamins!” to remember to take care of myself. We forget about taking care of ourselves and think it's intuitive and natural that you'll remember what you need to do for yourself, but (rolls eyes) hahahahaha…right. And I don't even have kids! BTW, I definitely think better with a latte and lemon loaf too…(mmmm…lemon loaf….)

  • AliciaAlston

    Tanya – thanks for diagnosing my problem! I was wondering the same thing about myself bc I suffer from the same symptoms – right down to the Franklin Planner! Since oct I've started to reclaim my time and bit by bit, a little bit of the me I put aside 17 years ago when I birthed my first angel (of four) — and coincidentally, the next Barack Obama or Paul Robeson, but I digress. I thought I had ADHD, but clearly, it's a case of CRS, combined with acute PMoBB (Put Mom on the Back Burner). I haven't tried lattes, but a one hour solo visit to the local coffee shop, dessert, and bi-weekly date night (when I don't forget), are slowly becoming the cure that I need. Thank you for validating my experiences – while making me laugh! Love you, fellow Douglass Deb 😉 keep up the great work!

  • jennielaurie

    I too know the syndrome well. You did better than me…I didn't bother to make appointments for myself except the critical ones…the ones I needed to have to be able to go on for others – my bipolar medication appointment (every six months), and my annual physical/cancer screenings. Also the dentist, but only if it was a problem that was debilitating and interfered with my ability to go to work and function normally. (Everyone else got regular dental checkups!) But last year, I made a stand. I made a hair appointment, and covered my gray hair. Now, I have a hair appointment every 3 months! It's my way of caring for my dignity. But the tendency to put yourself last on your list is a common one; so many women do it. Before 40, and after.