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

Tag: selfhelp

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.

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.

Breathe.

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.

The Midnight Library #2

Have your ever been so focused on some task that you lost time?

I recently chose to do that while waiting for my son to get home. IG reels lift my spirit and make me smile. I had some time to kill and I was too tired to read, so I dove in for some laughs.

I love that sense of losing myself in a project of any kind, but it’s very hard for me. There’s almost always a running dialog in the back of my mind while I do anything that keeps me from real focus.

Other things I need to do. Guilt about spending time. Wondering if this is the best use. Ego about whether or not it looks good or will come out right. And on and on.

Moments like these: reading this in The Midnight Library, creating the graphic, posting it here, and the process of this comment, are growth instances for me.

After Ecstasy, The Laundry #5

Final quote from this glorious book. I finished it this morning and will be writing about it soon, I promise!

It its one that I have put on a note card and added to my meditations.

You probably wouldn’t guess it, but I have a lot of very strong opinions that I’m pretty defensive about… like, violently at times.
(That’s sarcasm. 😅)

Each time I let an opinion go, I feel lighter and it’s time I actively work toward letting them all float away.

Maybe I’ll learn to listen better and have a more open heart when I do.

Can Personal Journals Lead to Better Days?

Personal journals are an amazing self-help tool. Over time, and with patience, we see things about ourselves that we wouldn’t otherwise notice. I’ve been journaling since 1987 and didn’t realize what a service I was doing for myself until now.

Inspired by Stuart Danker’s post, “Can Journaling Improve Your Writing? I Don’t Know, But Let’s Find Out,”  I went through a few of my old journals yesterday afternoon and made a discovery.

Nothing about me has fundamentally changed.

Let’s back up a bit.

personal journals

Yesterday morning, scrolling through my WordPress Reader, I found the post on journaling and felt a tad validated. I picked up my journal and scribbled, “I’m not alone in the world! Other people journal and look back only to find…eek!” My family jokes that someday my hand-written journals may be all that’s left of our civilization. Or worse! Some long-distant decedent discovers my box of journals only to find that insanity DOES run strong in our blood.

Oh, what a terrible thought!

Let’s get serious for a moment.

Several hours later, I find myself laying flat on the floor of my craft room, just thinking. I was feeling a tad low but accepting it as simply one of my ebbs and flows of the day. That’s when I turned my head and saw the storage box of journals I had brought in from the laundry/storage room last week.

I had brought in several boxes while cleaning out the storage room so my husband can transform it into his brewing lab. They are filled with old journals, calendars, and notes, and I want to consolidate and organize that stuff so it doesn’t get lost.

There I am, laying on the floor in my “woe is me” mood, when I spy the box and think…you know maybe it would be fun to thumb through those! Can you see this coming?

The first one I grabbed was from 2013, and the entries I saw were from one of our epic camping trips. I smiled thinking of my parenting days. The next one was a little sadder. It was the journal that my lawyer kept the year that I was arrested for armed robbery and attempted carjacking. Yeah…that’s a book that’s written and waiting for me to be brave enough to try and publish.

When the case was closed, I got the journal back and decided it would be fitting to flip it over and starting using it back to front. Those entries are a little painful to read, so much anxiety.

The last one I picked up, before I had to run off and make dinner, was from 1987. It’s my earliest journal, written in the back of my math notebook when I was fifteen years old and filled with comments about what boys I liked, which ones were calling me, and why my mom was so mean not to let go to a party.

Pretty typical, really. Sure, I was a little embarrassed reading it. Was I ever that young? But then I started thinking about it. I haven’t changed at all. Then I got sad. Have I not learned anything?

I went to sleep thinking about my own personal journals, woke up this morning, got myself a “cup of ambition,” and plopped down on the couch with my book.

Do you write personal journals, ones that are filled with your thoughts and feelings? There is so much swirling through my mind, but today is my “outing” day, so I’ll have to come back to you with the rest tomorrow. I’m sure these thoughts will settle if I sit quiet for a moment.

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