Spring List

Also Included: A Brief Summary of Some of Gretchen Rubin’s Work

When I first started this blog, it was about making and completing a list of things to do before I turned 35.  I never completed that original list and I’m okay with that, but I do like to make lists and/or set some goals from time to time.  When I brought the blog back last year, I made some seasonal lists which seemed a bit more doable on top of all the things I just normally do, but still kind of fun to create and accomplish.  I thought now that it is officially spring, it might be fun to make of list of things I’d like to do this season.

Before I get to the list though, let’s talk about procrastination.  Do you?  I do. I procrastinate.  I go back and forth between trying to change that about myself and just accepting myself as is.  Gretchen Rubin, an author I really like who studies and writes about habits and happiness calls this a “Happiness Paradox.”  I mean, things that really need to be done, I get done.  But I let some things wait until the deadline is looming near and some things that don’t have a definitive deadline and aren’t majorly inconveniencing me might wait a very long time until I get around to them. Gretchen might suggest I institute a “Power Hour” (NOT like back in the college drinking days!) to accomplish some of those tasks.  Gretchen would also probably suggest that if I really want to change my procrastination  habit, I take her quiz about the four tendencies.* (Can you tell I like Gretchen’s work?) The Four Tendencies Framework is a tool that Gretchen created to describe how we respond to both inner and outer expectations.  I’m not so sure I want to completely change all of my procrastination ways though, because sometimes I have a good reason for putting off a task. For instance,  I’d rather go for a bike ride than paint the kitchen ceiling or I’d rather visit my adorable baby nephew than fix the laundry room door.  I’d rather do the enjoyable living life kinds of things than the chore-y things.  Wouldn’t we all? Probably not.  I know some of you really enjoy the chores and/or just have a different sense of urgency for getting them done.  It takes all kinds. But still,  I firmly believe that  those living life choices are the right ones to make (for me!), they’re the ones I want to fill my days with because I rarely regret a bike ride and I almost always enjoy time spent with my family and friends. Always, always enjoy time with my sweet nephew!  But at some point I just gotta fix that door! Which brings me to item #1 on my spring to do list:

  1. Do the house chores I’ve been putting off
  2. Go for more bike rides
  3. Spring clean my house
  4. Do more yoga
  5. Keep writing
  6. Get outside

I want to make spring a mix of taking care of business and some things I’ve been procrastinating on and slacked off about, and I also want to fill spring with more fun and lightheartedness.  My school year has been kind of stressful and I probably let it get to me more than was good for me.  I’m ready to let the spring air into my house  and heart! Here goes…

*OK – I actually did take the Four Tendencies quiz and it says I’m a questioner.  However, I question whether I also have a tendency to be an obliger. I know I do.  The blog comes in handy sometimes to hold me accountable for my obliger ways.   Care to share your tendency or spring plans?

 

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About Not Writing

I’ve been sitting in front of my computer for a while not writing.  I’m here at my new writing spot with my writing pal but I’ve been not writing.  All week I’ve been trying to think of what I would write and I came up with a few tidbits of ideas here and there, but nothing that felt really quite right or just what I wanted. So I sat down and I read some other blog posts and I looked out the window and I drank some expensive, bubbly water and I checked my phone, I watched a rainstorm pass through, I chatted with my writing pal, and I was just not writing.  I kept thinking that I can’t not write.  Because I was not writing for seven months and I didn’t like that and I said I wasn’t going to not write any more.  So I decided to write about not writing.

Once I decided to write about not writing…we chatted some more.  And then, as I was looking out the window, it occurred to me to just write something.  It doesn’t have to be earth shattering (not that I think I’ve ever really written an earth shattering post here, nor am I trying to). It doesn’t have to be a wonderful post. It doesn’t have to be the most read post of my blogging career/hobby (It’s just a hobby).  It doesn’t even have to be good.  It just has to be writing.  Sometimes you just have to go through the motions.  Or not.  I don’t HAVE to write, but I want to write, I like writing.  I reminded myself that not everything we like or want to do comes really easily all of the time.  Nor does it turn out really well all of the time.  But a surefire way to fail and/or to not get better and/or to get or stay in a slump, is to not even try.

I tried to think of some examples from other realms of life or jobs or hobbies to sort of explain how I was feeling and how the writing just wasn’t quite happening the way I wanted, but it wasn’t quite happening the way I wanted.  I guess in all areas that happens though, things don’t go quite the way we want them to. (It doesn’t help when I’m mid struggle to write and my writing pal just claps her hands and says, “Ha!” As in, “I’m done!”)

That’s just how it goes sometimes though.  It’s hard and it doesn’t go the way you want at the very same exact moment that other people seem to be sailing along and winning trophies. It’s not going to be perfect or easy or the best or good or the way you thought all of the time.  But if you* want to do it, you just do it, you keep on doing it. You do your thing, whatever your thing happens to be.  If you want to be a runner, you run.  If you want to be a yogi, you go to yoga.  If you want to be a writer, you write.

So there it is.  I’m not not writing. I wrote. (Claps hands and shouts “HA!”)

*When I say you, I really mean me.  I mostly write to remind myself.

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And the trophy for not writing goes to…Seems to me that when I’m struggling to get something done, there are always plenty of distractions pulling my attention away from the task at hand.  As I was trying to write this week the distractions were aplenty, including this trophy that the Starbucks barista carried out and placed on the counter.  So we had some fun making up stories about our acceptance speeches and who and what the trophy could be for.  Turns out our Starbucks team won the Peak All Star honor for their district, whatever that means. They obviously weren’t not doing their thing. Good job, guys!

 

 

 

Close or Open the Books, Any Day

Soooo…it’s been 7 months since my last confession. I mean blog post.  Twelve years of Catholic school just makes that confession phrase pop right out.  I wasn’t keeping a tally count of the months of no blogging.  Word Press kindly tells you exactly how long you’ve been slacking when you log back in after a brief hiatus.  Thanks for that, Word Press People.

I wasn’t exactly counting the months of no blogging, but I sure have felt them.  A few of my wonderful friends who so kindly follow my blog and read my writing have asked when I’ll write again.  My writing pal has offered to meet up a bunch of times.  I’ve thought of things I’d like to write about.  But I just haven’t written.  The truth is I’ve kind of been in a bit of a slump for a while with writing. And with a few other things.  And the slump has lasted longer than I’d like to admit, much longer than comfortable. I thought about bringing back my blog lots of times, but I just did not do it. I even taught my first graders how to blog and they do it every week, but still, I did not do it myself.

One time that I thought a lot about getting back to writing was around the new year. (Is March too late for a New Year’s Resolution?) I took a walk back in December, on New Year’s Eve and, looking for a little inspiration with which to start the new year, I listened to an episode of the “Good Life Project” podcast called “Close the Books.”  In that message, Jonathan Fields, the founder of the Good Life Project described a process that business owners would do at the end of each year called “closing the books”. They would note debits and contributions to their financial accounts and try to make sense and balance of their money situation. Where does it make sense to continue spending? What revenue sources filled our accounts? Are we wasting money or resources in any areas? How can we plan to either continue doing what fills the accounts and stop doing what drains the accounts in the year to come? And then, close the old book and open a new one.   Jonathan explained how we might apply the same ideas to our everyday lives – work lives, personal lives, habits, activities, relationships.  He talked of looking back on the year and thinking about things that were deposits in your life. What added to your account, your life?  When I did that, I quickly thought about writing.  When I was writing on a regular basis last year (and the year before that when I first started this blog), I felt this positive addition to my days.  I got a good energy from creating something.  Even if no one else were to ever even read it, I liked the act of creating something.  I also liked how writing changed my outlook on things, my attention to my days.  Because I was looking for something to write about, I often paid attention to what was happening around me in a different way.  If something touched me or was bothering me, I could share it or work it out in my writing.  Sometimes writing helped me find a new perspective on something.  I liked the days when I was writing on a regular basis, so I thought back in December that I would really start writing again.  But I didn’t.

I slumped on through January and February. I mean, who really wants to do anything in January and February?  We’re supposed to be hibernating, right?  Except hibernating and slumping didn’t feel so good for very long and the friends kept asking and I wanted to write and I kept remembering that I told myself I would write again. But I didn’t. And then one day I just said, “Yes.”  I said yes to my writing pal. I said yes, I would do something to try to un-slump myself. I said I would show up and write and so here I am…writing.

I got a new book last week.  I buy a lot of books when I’m in a slump.  Truth be told, I buy a lot of books all the time, but still, this book helped in my un-slumping.  The book is called “The Endless Practice” by Mark Nepo. In the first several pages he tells about how zooplankton make a daily journey from the depths of their water habitat to the surface.  It’s a matter of feeding themselves and protecting themselves, and in the process of this, they also filter the water they inhabit and so contribute to the health of the larger world around them.  Nepo makes the point that in life we humans do something similar as we go back and forth between nourishing ourselves, filling, gaining energy and being drained, or needing to protect ourselves.  It kind of made me feel a little better about drifting away from some things that I know are good for me.  That it’s sort of the natural course of things to go back and forth, to hibernate and then wake up, to be down and then get up. Maybe I could drift and return a bit more frequently, like the zooplankton, but still.

So I might not have made that New Year’s Resolution happen, but any time really can be a time to close or open a new or old book, to swim up to the surface,  I think. My plan is to try to continue to write on a regular basis again, because it’s one of the things that makes me feel good, that fills me up and helps me filter the world.   Here goes again…

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I didn’t make the New Year’s resolution, but I did make it to see the New Year sunrise. “Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson