Dirty dishes in the sink. Putting your clean socks away. Replying to that one email that's been sitting at the top of your inbox for longer than you'd be willing to admit out loud.
We all have that small handful of tasks and chores that weigh the heaviest on our souls and our to-do lists. Most often, they're the things that occur multiple times a week, so that when you look at them, you think, "Didn't I just do that? And doesn't it take forever?"
And that's where our brains lead us astray. Because, although, yes, you did probably just do that – no, it doesn't take forever.
Last week, the New York Times ran a guide exploring A
I burned out early on Halloween movies this year. I watched mostly duds with a few mediocres sprinkled in, and realized I'd spent enough time in shakycameraland for one season. Not being even remotely ready for the annual sacrament of candy cane-fueled holiday classics (it's too early, even for me), I decided to spend this season of limbo - cold enough to need to be inside at night, but too early for Christmas merrymaking - raiding the public library, and watching that list of films I've been meaning to see for twenty years, but simply hadn't gotten around to it.
It hasn't gone as planned.
Earlier this year, I agreed to complete a woodworking project for my wife. Actually, I offered and volunteered myself to do it. She has a particular storage need in her office, and because of the weird layout, access issues, scale, etc, it's not something that exists anywhere. It has to be custom built, and installed in the space.
The truth is, I've been avoiding it. It's a big project, and it was easy to move to the bottom of the project list when it was the height of summer. We had houseguests coming in and out of our home, and the days were long and full of activity.
But now, that season is over, and it's time to start building. I realized this week why I've been putting it off: I'm afraid. It's beyond my skill level, and requires a lot of moving parts that need to line up, just so. In any other situation, this wouldn't be something I'd agree to do, because it's too big of a leap; I need to learn to do too many new skills inside the same project.
You know the ones. Those classic, advice-supplying stock phrases that might be from Shakespeare but could be a religious text and/or folk wisdom, yet we all seem to absorb nonetheless. Those almost-too-simple lines that are always shared by well-meaning people in sometimes appropriate, but usually irrelevant, situations that don't actually apply.
But, I suspect that we all have a few of these that actually do make sense to us. True, "a penny saved is a penny earned," doesn't really resonate with or motivate me. But I know it's a code that many people organize their lives around. Nor do I agree that you should "never go to bed angry."
These are thoughts, the artwork, the news stories, the tools, the food, the conversations, and whatever else we just can't get out of our heads this month.
Newsflash, amigos. Sometimes we mess up, and sometimes we need to say we're sorry. But if offering an apology starts with the line "I'm sorry if you," then you're not actually apologizing; you're simply expressing your own regret that you and the other party are not on the same page....namely, that they don't agree with you. In fact, we're deeming the word "if" inappropriate for apologies altogether. The other person can never be the subject of an apology.
If you're apologizing, you're the subject not just of the opening clause, but the whole paragraph: it is you that is sorry, you who owns the responsibility for the conflict in the first place, and therefore you who needs to put things back together again. An apology is not an opportunity for you to move past the other person's offense in an argument so you can return to making your same point as before. The apology is a pivot point that changes the nature of the conversation altogether.
When you're new to the world of DIY, starting even the smallest of projects can be a daunting task. How much money will it cost me? How much time will I waste? Do I even know what I'm doing? Questions like these can easily deflate a well planned weekend of hard work when you're not comfortable with yourself and your abilities.
Have you noticed? It's summer! It's the time of year when we dust off the backyard with friends and linger late into the night. There are so many great conversations I remember around a flickering fire, and I'm looking forward to more this year. But good conversations don't always come easy, so here are a few tips to get into the kind of convos you'll remember for years.
It's the classic finish to every story. The hero overcomes the odds, beats the villain, and rises victorious from the ashes of his enemy. But is that how life really works? The real world doesn't seem to support such a clear-cut approach to how we "win". My experience so far tells me a very different story, and we'd all be better off if we marched to a much different rhythm.
A few days ago, I listened to a eulogy for someone I didn't know. He was a friend of a friend, and passed away much too young. But it was clear from the message at his service that in his short life, he made an amazing impact on those around him. He was dealt a truly short hand in life, with serious obstacles, but through the words of others, his story made me, someone he never met, experience amazement and ultimate respect. His short, hard life was thoughtful, impactful, and a direct challenge to me to spend my time well. Here are my thoughts on how I plan to be remembered.
The older we get, the harder it becomes to start new habits...and break old ones. We begin in earnest, but soon we fall back; the good seem to slip, and the bad seem to creep in. The best way to keep yourself accountable is to ask yourself this simple question (looking into a mirror is optional):
Am I doing what I want?
I spent some time last week making a few DIY journals, and it made me think a bit about why I always have a stack of them filling my shelf. After looking through a few in the pile, I decided yes, they're definitely worth the effort. Here are a few reasons why.
Let your big goals be long ones.
Don't think: "I want to write a book."
Instead think: "I am going to work on a book this year, and next year, and the year after that."
It's empowering to shift your timeframes this way, and I encourage you to try it. Here's why:
Long-term goals are commitments
Short term goals are small aspirations. They're about things you want, not about the person you want to become. When you let yourself to approach something over a period of years, or even decades, you make bigger choices and commitments about who you want to be.
I used to hate when things were the same. I grew up in a family where everything was always changing. We never ate the same thing twice, we had no hallowed holiday traditions, no yearly vacation spot, no alarm clocks, no bedtimes, no church, no chore chart or laundry days. We did everything ad hoc, on the fly, winging it from sun up to sunset.
Sometimes, on a weekend morning, we'd leave the house, all of us together, with some vague destination in mind – maybe a museum or a park – and end up somewhere completely different (a cemetery or a different state). If we went out to dinner to celebrate a birthday, we usually chose the
If you're a morning person — congratulations. Seriously, we're legitimately happy for you. The ability to sleep well, feel rested, and then be ready to get going nice and early is a real gift, and you're lucky to be wired that way.
For the rest of us, mornings can be rough. Especially in the wintertime, when it's dark, and cold, and tens of thousands of years of natural selection are encouraging you to stay hibernating so you can protect your genes from freezing off.
But, of course,
I love to connect with others to hear about the gems they've mined out of life lately. But, sharing ideas and experiences isn't always easy, especially when we don't agree. When we all meet at the collective table, whether it's a family get-together or coffee with friends, some disagreement is inevitable. But just because they're missing something or making a logical leap doesn't mean you have to fight. Here are a few tips to remember the next time a conversation steers down that road.
There's lots of scientific research on why setting goals on January 1 never really works out, and by March or April, we've all backslided into our old habits. Often, it's because goals aren't specific enough, or we haven't found the best way to track the work we've done. Or, perhaps we don't actually believe we can achieve that new version of ourselves for the long term.
If you hadn't noticed, I'm kinda into quotes as of late. (See my how-to for creating a wooden desktop inspiration holder) For some reason, this season, I'm touched by the power of keeping a few mantras in the front of my mind. It's been helpful as I meet new people, work to improve old relationships, and just get through the daily grind. Here are a few of my favorites this week.