I don't like gratitude lists. I think it's great that other people like them, but I kinda hate them. They feel forced and phony, and the few times I've worked with them I've been really resentful. But I love writing lists of good things in my day (today the good things are plants--I bought gerbera daisies and polka dot plants and spearmint and curly parsley!).
Aren't they the same thing, you ask. I ask, too. Maybe they are. Somehow, the designation of gratitude list and the designation of list of good things sit very differently with me. Making a gratitude list makes me feel like I'm faking an emotion, because I often don't feel particularly grateful about the things I'm writing down. But a good things list is more objective, or at least more removed from the emotion part. I'm just looking around, observing good things, and writing them down. I'm not trying to force myself to feel anything about it.
That's really it. I don't have a point to this post really except to say that I don't like gratitude lists but I do like good things lists. Do you do either one of these? How do you feel about them?
When I'm tired, especially when it's the kind of tired from my body hurting and it's still hurting, it's hard to find five good things (or even three or two, honestly) in my day. But I think that's when it's especially important for me to do these lists. Finding some good things on hard days keeps me from sliding into even harder times. So here's a list for today.
I have a day off tomorrow, so I get to stay up a little later (I am a night owl!) and sleep in a bit in the morning.
We ordered pizza for dinner.
I was invited to do a writing thing with a group of writers starting on the weekend, and I have a brand new composition book to crack open for it!
M surprised me with an adorable Strange Planet mask to add to my collection of fun masks to wear at school. It even says "knowledge transmitter."
It's chilly enough to have the fireplace on and a blanket on my legs (under the sleeping kitty), and it feels very cozy and relaxing right now.
As the weather starts to warm up, everyone seems to be winding up, making plans for the summer, talking about all the projects they're going to do. I love hearing about it, but I'm not going to lie. I feel overwhelmed. It's nice out! I should be doing so many things!
I think I'm not the only one. So I made us a little plan for how to get things done even when it's overwhelming.
Keep it simple. This is not as easy as it sounds. Make a note. Put it on your mirror. (And remember--if you're overwhelmed, your plan isn't simple enough).
Don't try to do everything. It's easy to see all the cool stuff out there and want to do it all. But trying that is just going to exhaust you or freeze you up so nothing gets done. So spend some time thinking of the things you really want to do, then whittle that list down to the ones that will really feel good. Put everything else on a list for later.
Celebrate when you take a small step! You're getting stuff done, and who cares how much your neighbor Janice did?
Make sure you put some fun things on your list. Fixing up the yard and the house and whatnot are great. But what do you want to remember at the end of the spring or summer? I want to remember drives in the country and going to the coast and visiting waterfalls and lighthouses. Put some experiences on your list. Make sure you sprinkle them in amongst the tasks and to-dos.
Take things off the list whenever you can. Doing a bunch of yard work? Don'e put making dinner on your list for the same day. If ever there was a time for carry-out, the evening of a big yard work day is it!
When you're thinking of what you want to do ask yourself some questions. "What's the simplest way of doing this?" "What's the smallest step I can take toward this?" "Why do I want to do this? What do I want to feel from doing this?" Make your plan from the answers.
We can do everything. Just not all at once. And we don't really need to. We just need to figure out the things that will make us feel good because we did them, then pick those. And keep those steps small and simple!
I was just telling my partner that I want a spot in the backyard to go and hangout. In the past I had toyed with the idea of a she-shed, but right now the space just won't work. We're going to be putting an enclosed patio on the back of our bedroom, but right now the front yard is the focus. Then a friend got this super cute tent that has colorful pennants and swirly things on it, and I want one! Or something like that. For my backyard. So he came up with a few ideas for me, and I got pretty excited.
And then I stopped dead in my tracks. I don't tend to go sit outside. I never really have, unless I'm at an outdoor party or something like that. I shouldn't put any time and effort and money into fixing up a spot in the backyard. I just want to be that person who sits outside to read and listen to music. I've never actually been that person. What if I set everything up and don't use the space?
But then I realized that if you want to be a certain kind of person, you don't have to wait to do the things that sort of person does until you've made the proper inner shift or whatever. You become a certain type of person by doing the things that sort of person does. I
Writers write. Artists create. Backyard sitters go sit outside. So I'm going to set up a space for myself and see what happens. I might just be a person who enjoys sitting outside! And I'm going to think of what other people I want to be, and I'm going to start walking the walk. That's how you get there, after all.
I'm behind on a bunch of things I wanted to get done this week (going back to work flattened me, and I hate that!). But today I really needed to play with some paint. So I caught up a little bit with my Wanderlust lessons. Played with alcohol inks mixed with my paints on the gel plate. Got one print I especially liked, but the edges didn't lift so the actual print area wasn't big enough for what I wanted to do. So I made another one (and a couple more because gel printing!) and got this, and I'm pretty satisfied with this. And feeling better after having some play time.
The takeaway--sometimes, even if you have a lot to do, you have to step back and get in some creative play time to lighten up and give yourself a boost so you can get on with all the other stuff.
I think that like many people, one of the reasons I was drawn to teaching and coaching was to learn more about how to do my own work and find ways to go through or around or over my own stumbling blocks.
One of my biggest stumbling blocks is perfectionism. That's true for so many creatives! What is it with our brains?! That's a question for a longer post, though.
Lately, to help me conquer my perfectionist tendencies, I'm working with the ideas in Jon Acuff's book and course Soundtracks. This week I have been practicing a new soundtrack for when I get frustrated because something is imperfect and not been working out. I've especially been using it as I'm trying to put together a version of that master to-do list idea I wrote about the other day. I've tried a couple of ideas that just aren't working for me, but instead of giving up on the idea, putting it aside for later and probably never getting back to it, I've been saying, "This one isn't quite working out for me. What else can I try?" And it's been pretty awesome.
My brain loves questions, so as I work more with these soundtrack ideas I'm seeing more and more that putting in questions with my statements is a really good way to go for me. My brain instantly starts coming up with answers when it gets a question, and that seems to be helping me not get stuck when things aren't working out. It's just a matter of finding the questions that really get to the heart of what's holding me back.
How do you keep yourself from getting stuck or quitting when things aren't going as you'd hoped? Do you like questions? Or does something else do a better job of getting you rolling again?
What do you do with a really weird, hard day? I write about it. Usually in my notebook, but since I'm doing this blogging challenge I'll write a little here.
Nothing today went how it was supposed to, and it was all stuff that was out of my control. And now I'm feeling like I'm not doing any of the things I was supposed to do with my life, and that must be how I ended up here.
You know, I used to be a poet. And I used to be a story writer. I used to be a photographer. I used to have plans. I used to think I was going someplace.
It's been a really long, hard day. But I got some big things sorted out and still managed a load of laundry and a shower! And now I'm going to use a technique I learned from the fabulous Liz Lamoreux. I'm going to find five good things in this day. (By the way, take one of her Here sessions--so wonderful, peaceful, comforting, uplifting. Just so good!)
Chinese carry-out for dinner
Goofy cats running around making me laugh
All of my besties have had their vaccines or have scheduled them, so we should get to have a small gathering in my yard in a few weeks!
Today I learned about the bee hummingbird, the world's smallest bird, and someone had one perched on their finger in a photo (it must have been a baby) and it was so tiny--really the size of a bee!
Met online with my writing group and had a great talk about doll houses and miniatures which was funny and odd and very fun
That's what I can manage today. And for today it's enough.
I'm feeling really exhausted and run over today. Two days at the new job have my body rebelling a little bit. Lots of pain, really tired, feeling a bit disheartened. So I decided today would be a good day for a ta-da list to remind myself of good things.
I've blogged every day this month!
I'm keeping up with the lessons in the 5-day plotting challenge I signed up for even with starting the new job
I did my strength training exercises today even though I was so wiped out
Yesterday I walked 3 miles during my school day--two years ago I would have thought that was impossible
I made a healthy dinner for us tonight instead of ordering out
I've been getting some stuff done. I'm still taking care of the basics even with feeling so beat up. Tomorrow I get to sleep in because I don't work on Wednesdays. Tomorrow, I'll probably have more to say.
I seem to be full of songs today. Also full of rants. This is one.
There's this idea that gets thrown around in various forms a lot. Too much. I saw a version of it go by online again today. It goes something like, "If you really want to do something you'll find a way. If you don't find a way, you must not really want it or it's not really important to you."
This is garbage. It's all lies. I suspect that the idea was first put out there by someone trying to sell their very special system for helping you get what you really want.
The thing is, there's so much more to following your dreams and doing the things you really want to do than just putting your mind to it. Willpower and organization won't get around depression, anxiety, other mental health issues. They won't get around health issues--your own or those of loved ones and people you take care of. There's a lot of stuff that can get in the way of your dreams. None of that means you don't really want it, it isn't really your passion (or one of them), or that it wasn't meant to be or you're not cut out for it.
If you have a dream, if you want to create, hold onto it. Don't listen to the people telling you any of this junk about you not doing enough, being enough, wanting it enough. You are enough. Your dream is enough. Go do it your way!