Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Tag: greg mckeown

Routines and Habits

This will be my last post on this wonderful little book! Re-reading this has reminded me that, while I do still have some great routines and habits built into my day, I’d forgotten why I need them and had lost my motivation to keep building on them. I’m happy I finally got around to reading it again. It feels like I read it just in time, like maybe it was waiting for just the right moment.

“But if we create a routine that enshrines the essentials, we will begin to execute them on autopilot. Instead of consciously pursuing the essential, it will happen without our having to think about it.” From Essentialism by Greg McKeown

This is similar to the concept that The FlyLady uses to get all the housework done. I found her website over fifteen years ago and it changed my life. Seriously. Housework can be overwhelming for anyone, add in three kids, two dogs, and a personality like a squirrel on crack, and you’ve got a situation that might end up with someone calling CPS because that house…wow…children should not be subjected to that. She helps you set up routines, easy ones, that get the essentials out of the way so that you can focus elsewhere and enjoy life instead of slave away.

Coming into this book with those skills under my belt, made it easy for me to see where I could be applying essentialism everywhere else. Morning, afternoon, and evening routines are easy to create and stick to when I’m only focused on what I can actually do to make life better, instead of wildly going from one thing to the next and then losing my mind when a curve ball comes screaming in over the plate.

My list of essentials is short. I’m often accused of shirking when people ask me to take on new responsibilities, but only I know how much energy and time I have to spend. If it doesn’t fall under one of my essentials, and it feels outside my sphere of influence, I let it go. If it doesn’t get done, I suppose it didn’t need to be done.

I cannot and will not feel guilty that I’ve created a world for myself that doesn’t make me look like a busy bee all day every day. Yes, I have a lot of time. I have read, I write, I cook from scratch, because I made my life that way so that I can.

Now…if I can only make my mind work that way as well. That is what brings me to the next book I’m reading, The Path of the Human Being by Dennis Genpo Merzel.

Go back to my first post, “Essentialism by Greg McKeown” to read more quotes from the book.

Mistakes and Buffer Zones

Mistakes and buffer zones. Greg McKeown has some wise words for us to carry into the new year, but first…

Happy Birthday, 2022!

I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions, but I do feel like it’s a new start. Something about everyone celebrating one more revolution around the sun at the same time is energizing. I mean, the whole world does it on the SAME DAY! You can’t say that about Friday’s or the first day of any month.

How did you spend your New Year’s Eve? We went into town and brought Popeye’s chicken home for dinner along with a big bottle of rum (and yes, I sang “Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum..” on the way out of the store). We snuggled up on the couch with chicken and…mmm…biscuits…and watched “About Time” on Netflix. Party animals!

On any given evening we watch one or two series episodes before bed, but since it was a holiday we decided to watch a movie. But which one? Flipping through titles doesn’t help and the descriptions…well, they just don’t grab me. I wish they would play a couple random movie trailers that you cannot skip before everything else I watch, unrelated ones, not something similar to what I’m watching or the same trailer over and over like they with commercials on other channels.

Last night, we chose “About Time” because the title looked like it was funny and cute, different than what we usually watch, and it turned out to be so beautiful I cried and laughed and cried again the whole way through. I’m tearing up just writing this right now! So, if you haven’t seen it, go watch it. You will NOT regret it. It’s the perfect movie to start the year with.

PS If you’re reading this, Netflix, please find a way to help us see a better assortment of movies to watch. ‘What’s Trending” and “Based on What You’ve Watched” butters no parsnips!

And now, without further ado, some brilliant insight from yours truly. Two more of my favorite quotes from my latest read.

mistakes and buffer zones

“There should be no shame in admitting to a mistake; after all, we really are only admitting that we are now wiser than we once were.” From Essentialism by Greg McKeown

How’s that for an idea? If we drop the ego guard down for a moment, after every mistake we make we can think, “I’m am now wiser than I was. Yay, growth!” Much more useful than, “Well crap, I made a mistake. I must be stupid and I need to hide it better.”

“The only thing we can expect (with any great certainty) is the unexpected. Therefore, we can either wait for the moment and react to it or we can prepare. We can create a buffer.” From Essentialism by Greg McKeown

mistakes and buffer zones

By “prepare” he doesn’t mean have enough money, be smart enough, plan what’s going to happen and be ready. He means prepare yourself, be emotionally ready for anything.

I’m a naturally reactive person. I get very excited, very easily, and my emotions can run away with me. That’s great when things are going as I had hoped, not so much when I’m surprised by something I didn’t want. My space between stimulus and response has been microscopic.

Meditation has helped me increase that space. Like driving, the more space I have between me and other cars, the more time I have to reflect and then respond. This coming year, I hope to increase my buffer space even more and then (wait for it) remember that it is there so that I don’t jump to react at the first sign of a problem, like that guy that slams on the brakes when he sees a yellow light a mile ahead.

Ok, so here we are at the end of my first post of the year 2022. I debated whether I should skip the quote commentary and create a special post just for New Year’s Day. I do have my 2021 reading stats to share with you. I know you’re dying to know! But I decided to stick with the flow and combine things a little.

I’m still working on one more post about Essentialism. I finished reading it yesterday and this morning started reading, “The Path of the Human Being: Zen Teachings on the Bodhisattva Way” by Dennis Genpo Merzel this morning. It sounds like a great way to start the year off, don’t you think?

Go back to my first post, “Essentialism by Greg McKeown” to read more quotes from the book.

Essentialism by Greg McKeown

I started re-reading Essentialism by Greg McKeown on Wednesday morning and finished it today. I did a quick search of my blog and found that I first posted about it back in March of 2019. It wasn’t as long ago as I had first thought. Odd because I didn’t write the date that I finished it inside the cover and I thought I started doing that routinely more than three years ago.

These are the little things that get under my skin. I believe that I am habitual, that I’ve created systems and rituals that I never fail at, but then I find things missing, like this date or not finding a receipt in the file it should be in. It feels like catching a glitch in the matrix. Unsettling.

Anyway…letting it go.

My search also found that I mentioned adding the book to my 2020 TBR pile back in January of 2020. And here I am…just now getting to it. Time flies faster and faster. I’m starting to stress out again.


I chose this as my final book of the year for two reasons. The first is that I’d like the reminder to keep things simple. Now that I’m on my own most of the time (the kids are officially out on their own), I need to rethink and refocus, again. The second reason is, admittedly, it’s a short and light read that I knew I would finish before the end of the year. This way I can start a new book on New Year’s Day. Perfection! Yeah, I’m like that.

Because I like to post about what I’m reading “in real time,” I’ll play a bit of catch up today so that I can get to the fun 2021 Reading Review that I plan on posting ASAP! This will be a “new read” post and it will include two quotes. Three posts in one!

This book was originally written for professionals, businesspeople, entrepreneurs, etc. I am not one of those people. I’m a housewife, but I think the principles apply to anyone. I’ll apply these ideas to the things that I do when I’m writing these posts: books, housework, family and friends, and craft projects.

“There are far more activities and opportunities in the world than we have time and resources to invest in.” From Essentialism by Greg McKeown

Essentialism quote

I think we all know this instinctually but our response to it is less than ideal. What we usually do is notice it and then spend the rest of our lives scrambling to get as much in as possible. And then, like dragging everyone through Disneyland by their ears to get the biggest bang for your buck, we destroy ourselves, our peace, and our family’s happiness.

This book advises a different tactic, one that I adopted the day that I realized that I can’t read ALL the books that exist. I also can’t support every relationship in the world, eat all the food, make all the projects, or do all the upgrades and remodels that are possible for my house.

Instead, we can find a way to whittle it down to the essentials, do those first and do them well, and forget the rest. Otherwise, we’ll kill ourselves chasing in every direction and never get anywhere.

“No matter how busy you think you are, you can carve time and space to think of your workday.” From Essentialism by Greg McKeown

Essentialism quote

Now, I don’t work outside my home, but I do have responsibilities and there are things that I want to do, so one day I sat down and wrote out all the things I would want to do daily, weekly, and monthly, along with the time I believed it would take to do each. I also have a running list of long-term projects. Then I calculated how much time was in a day after sleep.

Guess what? It’s not a cliché. There really aren’t enough hours in the day, days in the week, or weeks in the year, to do all those things. I had some work to do to pare that down into a reasonable amount of stuff. Greg McKeown relates it to organizing your clothes closet and he’s spot on.

It’s New Year’s Eve and I typically get a little reflective around this day, don’t you? So here I am thinking, looking back on my journal (thinking I should do like I said I would and make dates with myself to reflect and refocus more often) and wondering. What did I accomplish this year? I have lots of things that happened, but only a few things that I personally accomplished thru my own actions. That needs to change. Or does it? I’m not sure yet.

Like the author says, I need to clean out my closet and rethink the purpose of my wardrobe. Today it begins. I’ll get the housework done, pick up my mail, and then sit down with my journals, my calendar, and my reading log to see where I’ve been, and then plan out where to go next. Life is moving way too fast to just sit here being sad that I can’t do it all and finding myself doing nothing.

Want to read more? Hop over to “Mistakes and Buffer Zones” for a New Year’s message and more quotes. And to “Routines and Habits” for my final thoughts on this great book.

True Nature, Driving, and New Podcasts

As you have probably heard, I love listening to podcasts while I drive and yesterday, I tried out a couple new ones to share with you. One got me a little closer to that idea of the true nature of things that “Returning to Silence” was getting at.

Understanding the true nature of things while I'm driving.
Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

What’s Essential hosted by Greg McKeown

I picked this one because I loved his book “Essentialism” and plan on reading it again. I’m not sure if the podcast will add more to my understanding than the book does, but it was worth a listen.

The Daily Stoic

I’m a big fan of Stoic philosophy and have been studying it passively for years. As a highly emotional and reactive personality, it has helped me learn better ways of dealing with the world. Most days I wish I were better at it, but I’ve come to accept my progress for what it is. I’m doing the best I can with what I have. I am making headway, no matter how slowly.

I added this one to my repertoire because my sons started listening to it. Side note: there is nothing in this world as awesome as your kids picking up and getting into something you’ve been interested in for years.

This podcast is short and to the point, just a little something to think on as you start or end your day.

And then there is this one, the one I really want to talk to you about.

Secular Buddhism with Noah Rasheta

I’ve been leaning more towards Buddhist teaching for some time now, not for its spiritual aspects (although that’s pretty interesting), but more for its teaching about human nature. I’ve found guidance and support by reading and trying to understand this teaching.

Listening to this podcast is an extension of that effort and I liked it to much that it will stay in my rotation for a while. It added to the thinking I’m learning in the book “Returning to Silence.”

Speaking of that book, I had some gems to share from it today!

“People usually depend, consciously or unconsciously, on the conceptualizations of the world.”

Funny thing…that’s exactly what the second episode of Secular Buddhism (#150 Buddha Nature) I listened to was about!

He told the story of his Buddha rock, a stone he had painted at a monastery and kept in his house and then in his yard. The rock was supposed to remind him of the Buddha Nature, the weight that keeps us grounded, maybe an anchor. Moral of the story was that it was the nature of the rock and his connection to it, not the painting on it, that was supposed to be the reminder.

We all do this to everything around us, every day. Everything we see and experience in this world, we label and categorize. This person is fat. That person is rude. That tree is tall. That thing hurts me. But those labels are not the true nature of those things. When we can see past the descriptions and labels, we can begin to see the reality, the connections, and more.

It reminds me of, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” The true nature of what we see and experience isn’t what we label it with.

If you want to read more of my posts about “Returning to Silence,” go back to my first post on it called, New Read: Returning to Silence. You’ll find a list of posts at the bottom of the page.

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