on efficiency, habits, and childish inspiration

I read three short posts online last week that I am still thinking about. Ok, so one of them I just read on Friday, but you know, I have a short attention span so it’s kind of amazing that I can still remember anything before right now. You might think that these three posts have nothing to do with each other, but in my mind, they are totally linked. I’ve been thinking a lot about how to work and when to work lately. (And by “lately”, I mean for the past four years).

The first I found via Pinterest, and it is an old post, so I guess I was meant to see it.

I’m a bit of sucker for this kind of thing. What’s not to like? Someone is going to tell me how to be more productive? And they are going to do it in a list? If it is written in a list, that means I can read it in list-mode and not even feel guilty about it, right? Well, I’ll be. She got me at “The list of things I want and need to do is always much longer than the list of things I actually accomplish. I can’t do it all. I wish I could. I am constantly striving. But at the end of the day, I’m usually just a girl who drops more balls than I catch.” Yep. I hear you loud and clear, Ruth.

Let me tell you something. All ten of these suggestions are good. The more I think about them, the better they are. And I’m only doing one of them. One. Which brings me to article number two: habits. In this post, Victoria focuses on habits that she is trying to break after reading this book (which, by the way, looks really interesting, at least based on the few pages that Amazon let me read for free). I know a little something about myself. I tend to succeed more when I try to form new habits than try to break old ones. I discovered this when reading Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project. Semantics, really, but work with me. Am I really going to stop eating cookies despite the fact that it is time to buy bigger pants? Probably not. But if I chose to start eating more fruit, I end up eating fewer cookies. See where I am going with this?

Victoria’s post really got me thinking about how my small daily habits impact some of the bigger things in everyday life. I am kind of in a rut with respect to certain things around here. I’ve (mostly) gotten myself out of the rut with respect to cooking by writing this blog. We really don’t eat the same things over and over for dinner anymore. And I like that. But there are other areas that I want to improve and trying to adopt new habits may be the way to start making small progress. And so begins the snowstorm of ideas. What are my priorities (hello, Ruth’s point in article one) and what are the concrete goals that I am trying to accomplish (thank you again, Ruth).

This is going to take some thought. I can shoot off a handful of goals (better and more patient parenting, better photography and understanding of my camera, better living through food and exercise, more control and organization over the process of blogging, etc.) pretty quickly but I think the critical part is going to be putting those down on paper and trying to see where each fits. And more than that, remembering Ruth’s first point that the list is long and the day is short. Acknowledging that some of these goals might not fit within my real (rather than imagined) priorities is going to take some effort.

Which brings me to the third post. If you haven’t looked at Emily’s paintings, please do. I love her use of color. But here’s the thing. Emily is painting these beauties with two young girls in her studio. In this post, (which, by the way, is almost a year old and I just happened to catch it at the right time – thank you twitter) she shares a perspective that is often lost on me: that our children inspire us to do better, be better, act better. This thought in particular is what hit me hardest: "Kids inspire us to live life vividly – the way they do." 

Isn’t this part of the reason that I want to adopt new habits in the first place? Yes. I want my kids to have a strong role model. I want it to be ok that our life is sometimes messy and I want them to learn to be patient and learn to explore and learn to create. I want them to be active and actively seek new experiences. Is this the way that I am living today? No. I don't see myself living life vividly. But I sure am going to try. And I think using Ruth’s suggestions on efficiency and adjusting some of my daily habits might be a great place to start.

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So thank you, Ruth, Victoria, and Emily for inspiring me this week. I’ve got work to do but I am certainly lightened knowing that there are women like you out there writing something that inspires people like me to live better. I suspect this conversation will be continued. 

Oh, and by the way, I saw this on Pinterest last night. Word.

Photo credit for first photo to Ruth Soukup.