Posted in motivation, tips

If you want to use it, make it accessible

A common bit of eating advice is to make convenient the foods that you actually would like to be eating more of. Produce on the counter or in obvious places in the fridge. Junk food harder to get to, not noticeable as soon as you open the fridge or pantry door (if it’s in the house at all).

It’s true with more than food.

We have three ukuleles here at the house. They were tucked in their cases in a corner in the living room. At The Tall Daddy’s house, there was an electric piano in the office.

Occasionally, we’d pull out the ukes. Every now and then, he’d play the piano.

We just did some rearranging in the living room, and the ukuleles are hanging on the wall now. And we decided to bring over the electric piano.

So now, the instruments are all right in the main thoroughfare in the house. And you know what?

They’re getting played. Not necessarily daily, but substantially more than every now and then.

What do you want more of in your house? Can you make it more easily accessible? (And the flip side: can you make less accessible things you want less of?)

Posted in education, know better do better, mindset, motivation, parenting, thoughtfulness

Donations through purchases

The Kid mentioned to me the other day: “Mom, did you know Tony the Tiger donates money to keep sports in schools?”

We had a short conversation about it, and I told him I’d look up the details.

Here are the details: you buy a box of Frosted Flakes. You upload your receipt, and Kellogg’s donates $1* to an organization funding school sports. I didn’t look for further details about the organization or what they’re doing—I didn’t think our conversation would be that in-depth.

Did you notice the asterisk? I did, and I had to zoom on my screen to be able to read the fine print.

Max donation is $1M.

So we talked. He was happy about it at first—$1 per box seems pretty good. (We also talked about how sports and sugary cereals don’t really go together.)

But then we talked about the upper limit. And we talked about all the people who could potentially buy the box, thinking they’re donating to school sports, and they’re not.

“But Mom, they’ll stop the commercial [that I saw] once they hit a million, won’t they?”

Well … I don’t know. Maybe. Maybe not. And we talked a bit about how ads are purchased. (Didn’t even get into nefarious intent, just “we bought two weeks’ worth of ads so they run for two weeks, regardless.”) So they might still be running after Kellogg’s has donated their million.

“That is the crappiest thing I’ve ever heard! Oh my goodness!”

Lesson learned: if we want to donate to a cause, donate to it directly.

Posted in mental health, mindset, motivation, parenting, thoughtfulness, vulnerability

Video: You are enough

I shared with you a snippet from a podcast regarding emotional contagions and the effect of negative people in your orbit.

If you got to thinking and realized that might be you, this clip might help.

Or if you move through the world feeling you’re less than other people, for any of a variety of reasons, this 13 minutes might change your life. (Feeling “less than” manifests as passive, as defensive, as angry, as perfectionist, as many things…)

While you could watch the whole clip if you have 45 minutes, the piece I’m recommending here starts at 2:10 and goes until 15:00. She starts this clip by talking about weight loss, but that’s not what the clip is about—stick with it.

 

Posted in about me, ebb & flow, meandering, motivation

Competition … and how I’m mostly over it

Tomorrow, The Kid is competing in his first taekwondo tournament. Because I’m taking classes as well, I was also invited to participate, but I’m not interested.

Competing doesn’t do much for me these days.

I like to play games, and I like to play hard (sometimes), but mostly, I’m not super-invested in winning.

I like to get better than myself.

It’s exciting when I occasionally accidentally win in pursuit of being better than myself. Like once when I came in second for my age group in a 5k when I was just trying to beat the clock.

Now, I concede that perhaps I don’t enjoy competition in physical things because I’ve not ever been especially good at them.

I have not learned nearly enough about taekwondo form to put mine in front of judges. (You can tell me that the playing field is level, but then you’re not hearing what I’m saying: I want to be better than I am before performing.)

Maybe it’s being raised a musician. Perfection is the goal in any performance, is what we strive for in practice, is essentially unattainable because every skill subset can be honed well beyond anything I’ve ever come close to reaching.

I’ve walked into auditions unprepared.

It feels like shit before, during, and after.

I don’t do that any more. And so, I’m not competing tomorrow.

The Kid? He doesn’t have that baggage. At least not yet.

I just hope for him to enjoy his experience, regardless how he performs.

(I don’t think the same would be true of a musical performance. I would want him to perform well—relative to his skill level—and enjoy it. But not just enjoy it.)

Hmm…

The more I think about this, the more I’m sure there are a million angles that I’m overlooking. But for now—doing my best with what I’ve got. Trying to hone skills in some areas. Enjoying being a hack in others. And not needing to beat anyone else in any of it.

Posted in about me, audience participation, ebb & flow, know better do better, motivation, parenting

I’m tired of being busy

Variables confound.

As a kid, I was interested in a lot of things. In the six years of junior high and high school, I did band, orchestra, jazz band, marching band, flute choir, show choir, flute lessons, art lessons, basketball, softball, school plays, school musicals, German club, student council, creative writing. Not all of them every year, for sure, but that was all in there. Probably others I’ve forgotten in the intervening decades.

In high school, I maxed out my electives, including getting permission from the teachers to take two at the same time one year (just keeping up with work in each for the days I was in the other).

I’ve always looked for approval, and all of these feed that. Is that why I was doing All The Things? Or was I really just interested in a lot of stuff?

Hard tellin’.

Still, I’m interested in a lot of stuff. It took me years to be able to put things on the “to do later” list instead of trying to do as much as possible all at once.

I don’t have a lot in common with people who spend a ton of time watching TV or who retire and don’t know what to do with themselves.

I got better. I became pleasantly occupied—not so much as to be overwhelmed, not so little as to be bored.

It’s been a while since I’ve been pleasantly occupied.

Having a kid plays into that, for sure. But even without the kid, if I work, exercise, and cook dinner every day, there’s not that much time left. Weekends, I suppose.

In addition, though, I’m writing, and I’m learning photography. I play ukulele but not as often as I’d like.

And the list gets longer.

I would like to spend time every day meditating and reading and stretching and foam rolling. I’d like to spend time regularly (though not necessarily daily) in visual art: drawing, calligraphy, even just coloring. I’d like to spend time daily book-learning Spanish, in addition to the practice I get here and there.

It just doesn’t all fit in a day or a week.

I’m in the process of making a routine for us during the week. Make sure his homework gets done. Make sure he has time to play. Make sure we all eat well. Make sure there’s time to exercise. And to do something from the list of “things that make me feel like more than a worker bee/home life secretary.”

It still feels like a lot. Just the main stuff. I think, though, it’s because other stuff is weighing in. Housecleaning. Projects around the house. Stuff that comes up that isn’t part of the planning—because there’s always stuff. Maybe I should block out time for “stuff that comes up.”

It’s overwhelming.

Somewhere in there, I want to find time to spend with friends, and sometimes I can make the time … but do my free time and theirs match?

In that way, having kids makes it a bit easier, because we get together, the kids play, the parents (usually but not always moms) talk.

If those times line up. And if the friends I want to get together with have kids. Who he likes to play with.

So I’m still trying to figure it out, how to have life that doesn’t always feel frantic.

One way? We need to get rid of at least a quarter of the stuff in the house. Probably more, but a quarter would be a good start.

That would reduce the time spent on Stuff Maintenance: organizing, cleaning, etc. And along with that, if we could work on acquiring less, we’d spend less time shopping, we’d spend less money shopping, we’d waste fewer resources and produce less trash.

Of course, cleaning out a quarter of the house takes time. “Clean out [something]” has been on the to-do list maybe forever. Some of it has gotten done. Some of it needs to be done again. Some of it hasn’t gotten done yet.

Some of the cleaning out has technical blocks. For example, I haven’t looked into how to get my old cassettes, if they still work, into some better format, whether CD or mpwhatevernumber. Then I could get rid of the bin of cassettes. One more thing gone. But that’s nowhere near the top of the priority list … which is why now, years later, it’s still not done.

I’m getting better about “what if I need it?” and giving away things I’m realistically not going to need. Things that are used occasionally are generally well-organized so I don’t go out and buy another of a working thing I already have.

I’m getting better about getting rid of things that I don’t really want but have some sentimental value.

Both of those, I have ample room to improve but I’m not nearly at the level of packrat that I used to be.

It’s easier to resist buying something than to get rid of it after it’s bought.

I am a wanter of stuff in waves. Right now, I have a list of fairly random wants. Other times, I’m content with what’s here already.

Most of that list? I’m not going to buy.

Then I get stuck in: would my life be better (by whatever metric) if I did buy All The Things (and use them), or am I just fine without? I mean, I feel fine, but every now and then I acquire a thing and it just makes my life better.

For example, I have a friend who has always given me great earrings. I never ask for jewelry because my tastes are a little quirky (I know, hard to imagine), but she is amazing in that way.

I have another friend who has often given me great kitchen tools—sometimes things I didn’t even know would be useful that I now use often.

So that’s what I mean. These things make my life better, but I would have gone on just fine without them. Are they now part of the problem? I don’t think so, but I’m really not good at making that distinction at the point of sale, so most of the time, I err on the side of not buying.

Wow! I’m a long way from where I started. (Tangent city indeed!)

I need to purge my stuff and I need to purge my schedule, both to the end goal of having time for what I want to have time for … at least sometimes.

Anyone here not overwhelmed by their schedule? How do you do it?