Posted in about me, ebb & flow, gratitude, mindset

A moment of perfection

Sitting in the living room I rearranged over the weekend, enjoying the the new energy the room still has, facing the window with the blinds open, at my table in the corner with my moleskin and a felt-tipped pen.

Felt-tipped pens are perfect for certain writing. They’re not fast, but my handwriting is lovely when I write with them (because they’re not fast), and I have so many colors. Colors make me happy.

I decided early in pandemic that the moleskin was for writing with these pens. I can only write on one side of each page which feels wasteful, but I’m letting that go. I know I will be more upset with the difficulty in reading it with the other side bleeding through.

It’s a journal of sorts, so when I want to write about goings-on, I choose it and a color contrasting the most recent color, though sadly not yellow, because it’s too hard to see. I do have a darker yellow that I can get away with occasionally.

I sat down with my spiral notebook this morning, planning to do some free writing in it, but the pen wanted to write about the moment. I put the spiral and ball point pen away, took out the moleskin, and wrote.

The Kid is at school. It’s the first morning in a full month—between winter break and two weeks of virtual learning—that he’s had school at school. The Climbing Daddy is working in the other room but not on a call. The dogs are napping on the couch next to me.

It’s quiet.

It’s beautiful.

The weather is cold, overcast, wet, dark this morning. The sun is among those of us having trouble getting up today. I have a candle burning and a cup of hot tea. This moment, as I just enjoy it, is one brand of perfect.

(There are so many types of perfect moments.)

If I get to thinking even a little bit, the moment loses its luster. Schools shouldn’t be open. All three county dashboard metrics are at red for the whole county. The country is potentially on the brink of civil war. I hope it doesn’t go that far but I can’t be surprised if it does.

Those realities are definitely not part of my perfection.

There’s enough time for those later. For now, I will soak in the quiet of my little corner with my tea, candle, and felt-tipped pen.

Posted in Sunday photos

My photography journey 17Jan21

For Christmas, I gave The Climbing Daddy a “grow your own [oyster] mushrooms” kit*.

It’s a pretty simple setup, and in about a week and a half, we went from having a cardboard box full of mushroom-growing stuff to a box with mushrooms growing like mad, ready to be harvested.

Truly amazing.

The Tall Daddy was here and remarked, “You can just about stand here and watch them grow.”

It was true.

Two or three days before they were ready, I took a few shots with the extension tubes.

The red tablecloth reflected up. You can see it a bit in the lead image. There’s no red in them at all.

That’s all for this week. Enjoy the long weekend (if you have one), do something to help someone who is “less than,” and I’ll be back on Tuesday!

*I’m not an affiliate. I just thought the kit was fun and easy to use and like to promote small businesses.

Posted in about me, connections, ebb & flow, exercise, mental health, mindset, motivation, tips

Wandering and staying focused: a working plan

In a conversation on Zoom this morning, we chatted about staying on track with work and life. A system I guess-and-checked my way into is working really well for me right now and seemed to resonate with others, so I thought I’d share it with you. Take what resonates, leave the rest.

First, I made a list of things that in my ideal life, I would do every day. It’s not a to-do list—there’s no way I can actually do all of these things every day. I left the list out on my desk for a few days and added to it and made notes as I thought of them.

I edited the list and organized it by section. This is what I ended up with:

Body

  • foam roll
  • move (walk, run, bike)
  • body weight exercises
  • stretch
  • Alexander Technique

Writing

  • prompts
  • book
  • blog
  • newsletter

Household

  • laundry
  • food
  • paperwork

Other

  • photography
  • music
  • Spanish
  • read
  • Forward Link
  • connect

I printed the list and put it in a picture frame (surely I’m not the only one who has extra picture frames hanging around?), because dry erase markers work well on glass. I keep it on my desk. If my desk was located differently in my house, I’d hang it on the wall next to my desk.

Any time I do something from the list, I check it off. On Monday, I check on the left side; on Tuesday, I check on the right. On Tuesday, I make a slightly larger effort to get to things that were neglected on Monday. At the end of Tuesday, I erase it all.

Wednesdays, the schedule here is off, so I check things on Wednesday and then erase it at the end of the day. Thursday and Friday are paired, Saturday and Sunday are paired.

Why did I make this list?

Because I’m working from home in a self-directed pursuit, I needed some structure. But I know myself well enough to know that a schedule wasn’t going to work; it’s too easy to get derailed. I found myself finishing a task and wandering around the house, wondering what I was forgetting to do next, and looking for a snack.

The list keeps me grounded. There are lots of options, for a variety of focus levels. All of them are good ways to spend time—I won’t feel like I’ve wasted an hour on any of them.

How did I make the list?

The first two sections—body and writing—I broke down into specifics, because these two are the most important and the easiest to blow off. Funny how that works. All the body pieces and the first two writing pieces I strive to do every day.

The blog sees a new post three days per week, but I’m writing or editing more often than that. It’s nearly daily.

The newsletter is every other week (sign up here) but I kept forgetting about it until the last minute. So I don’t need to work on it every day, or even close, but this keeps it on my radar which improves the quality of both my time and the newsletter.

Household. Just things that get backlogged. Except food, these aren’t things that need to get done every day, but again, they stay on my radar, and it feels good to check them off when I’ve done them. “Eh, I don’t feel like doing any of these things, let me go throw in some towels” is still forward motion.

In the other category are things I want to do regularly but don’t need to be as specific about, because any variation within them works for me. For example, under photography, some days I’ll take photos, some days I’ll work on the online course I bought a while back, and some days I’ll work on editing. If photography was my main thing, I’d have those listed separately, but it’s not, so I don’t. A day when I do any one of those three things is a good day.

Connect is a reminder to connect with people outside of my house. This was a thing before COVID, because traveling teachers can easily make it through the day without interacting with other adults in any meaningful way.

I’m working on connecting more via phone or video call and not relying on text as much. I hate making phone calls (though I love talking to most people most of the time once we’re talking) and have been pushing through the dread of dialing. Sometimes the calls have been short—I only have 10 or 15 minutes and just call to check in—but still, they’re something.

In the frame, there is room around the list to write things I want to remember—specific tasks that need to get done, things that pop into mind and just need to be recorded somewhere obvious—and that has jogged my memory quite a few times already.

Using some of this, I’ve created a morning routine that doesn’t involve screens. 

We already have a “no screens in the bedroom” policy (unless The Kid is sleeping in our room and needs a sleep meditation to get to sleep), so I’m already not on my phone before I get out of bed.

In the mornings, I’ve taken to coming to the living room before The Kid gets up and the day gets busy. I’ll do some foam rolling and stretching (check off two things right away!), and then in my notebook, I’ll do some writing or a writing prompt (check a third thing!). The whole process only lasts 20 minutes or half an hour, but it’s grounding for the day and gets everything moving nicely before I get sucked into screens.

Could I spend more time than that on any of those things? Of course. But I’m giving them all some time, which I was not doing before, and if I want or need to return to them later in the day, I can. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. Either way, it’s OK.

I’ve used this plan for two weeks and I’m very happy with it. Hopefully there’s something here you can use, too!

Posted in connections, mindset, socializing

A tangent from … May

 I wrote in May about sharing things you feel good about on social media—getting exercise, baking, creating art. (You can revisit that post here.)

At the end of that post, I indicated I had a tangent from it that I would share tomorrow.

I have a huge stash of drafts. Some just notes. Some partially written. Some fully written but I don’t like how they flow so they’re waiting to be rewritten.

Some were timely and will end up just deleted.

This one? Fully written. Flow is fine. No idea why I didn’t post it in May. Enjoy!

“No one cares that you ran today.”

1- You can’t generalize your own dislike to everyone. Even if you and all of your mutual friends agree, that’s still not everyone. If the posts are truly offensive or simply bother you that much, remove the person from your field of vision. (Different social media platforms achieve this differently, but “remove” is also an option in all of them.) It’s not their responsibility to meet your approval with what they share.

2- On the opposite side of that, some people are inspired. I have had people tell me that because they saw this right now, they decided to go do something right now. Typically, these are people who already do the thing and are in a bit of a slump. They’re kickstarted.

3- It’s passive aggressive. If there’s an issue with a person, either have a conversation with them or stop letting their stuff come into your feed.

How we react to things is our own baggage, so being upset about benign posts is often because they poke at a sore spot.

Maybe you want to be doing the thing and can’t (for any of a million reasons) and are angry and/or sad about that.

Maybe you feel like you should be doing the thing and you aren’t (for any of a million reasons—some the same as the previous million) and others sharing their success triggers shame.

Maybe you know the person and you know that what they’re sharing and what happens in real life don’t match (again, for any number of reasons, possibly reasons you’re not aware of) and you bristle at the inauthenticity.

Maybe it’s just redundant.

Sometimes what people are excited about and what you’re interested in listening to don’t match.

The Kid can talk to me about rockets or Star Wars or Minecraft for extremely long periods of time. I could go with the extra-condensed version and be quite content. If these were Facebook interactions, I could just scroll past them (because I don’t have to engage) or I can hide him, or I can unfriend him.

If we have interactions with a person in real life and they always talk about the same thing and it’s not at all interesting, often we stop spending time with them. (Which is unfortunate that we don’t usually say, “Hey! I’d really like to talk with you but this topic isn’t really interesting to me. Can we talk about something else?”)

Social media seems to be a space where we still spend time and just complain about it. If it bothers you that much, stop giving them attention!

Posted in Sunday photos

My photography journey 10Jan21

More macro!

I got some advice on improving my shots and wanted to redo the dog’s eye (I like that shot) but haven’t thought to do it when they’re laying and I’ve had enough light.

Speaking of not enough light… this one is too dark, and I wouldn’t normally share it, but watching Brussels sprouts grow is so delightful!

They’re actually still smaller than grapes. We’ve had some cold nights and I’m amazed the veggies are still growing, but the sprouts, so many tomatoes, chili pepper (or maybe jalapeño—Climbing Daddy would know), onions are all still growing strong! I don’t have photos of most of them. Or, I don’t have photos that were worth sharing of them.

Other shots from around the garden were better as far as light goes. Some are sharper than others. Still work to do; enjoying the process. The lead photo is basil.

The broccoli is starting to show! So exciting!

And a more Arizona-type of plant.