The ‘Truth’ in my head

Let’s start the New Year with some enlightenment and self-awareness.

True Rules, as coined by Gretchen Rubin in The Happiness Project, is what she calls a collection of principles, to help make decisions and set priorities in your life. Defined by you, they work for you, which is why they are true; and they are used time and time again, which is why they become rules. I’ve outlined some of mine below. Although many of them are perhaps more like life reminders than rules to live by, there are many I hold dear to me that blur the lines between advice and rule, and so I’ve decided to include them all.

  • If you have the opportunity, always choose going out over staying home. When you’re at work later and sad you’re not at home doing your own thing, at least you’ll be satisfied with the happy memories you made on your time off, where you utilised your time well.
  • Where one door closes, another one opens.
  • There’s a reason for everything.
  • Treat others how you would like to be treated. And if they don’t treat you right (even if they’re older) fuck them off.
  • TV eats your time. TV can wait.
  • Home-cooked food is best.
  • You won’t get this day again/Absorb the moment you’re in/Take Note.
  • You’re only young once – so buy that dress/those shoes/show some leg, cleavage, ass (respectfully if you can – and if you can’t, just flaunt it).
  • Writing is more important than cleaning/tidying/washing/sorting/insert house activity (excluding home cooking, see above – not to say the cooking is more important than the reading, but to eat well refuels our energy stores and better prepares us to tackle our tasks and passions – so it is a necessity). Which is why I am never on top of any housework, but we are always satisfied and content in our tummies if nothing else.
  • Reading and Writing FIRST (Facebook and The Bold and the Beautiful sometimes win when I’m tired – I’m human).
  • Don’t get too hungry.
  • Always skim the edges and top of hot soup (many debates over how Hubbie cannot eat hot soup properly over this one).
  • But first, coffee.
  • Try to make everyone happy.
  • If a great song comes on while you’re in a clothing store, chances are you should buy something there.
  • If it’s not meant to be now, that means something better is waiting.
  • Life goes up; life goes down. Then repeats.

Some of my regular thoughts aren’t necessarily true, or constructive for a happier life. For example, making everyone happy is almost always a death sentence – I should be trying to do that for myself. And I don’t always find something I want to buy when a great song comes on in a shop I love, leaving me feeling unsatisfied when I walk out empty-handed. I don’t always get to put writing first, which leaves me feeling frustrated most of the time, and I don’t always find a ‘reason’ as to why things are the way they are. Sometimes I’m left wondering for a while, a very long, long while.

And yet, these are the things we think and feel in our day-to-day lives, whether they are true for us every time, or helpful for us to think, we still think them, out of habit, out of experience, which makes becoming aware of them all the more important. If we can pinpoint any troubling repetitive thoughts that aren’t conducive to our way of life, we can try to make things better, and us happier in the process.

Not letting myself go hungry is a good thing, and makes sure my energy stores are usually on the up especially with the demands of life as a Mother/Wife/Daughter/Sister/Friend/Butler/Driver/Cook/Whoever else can you think of?

Heading out when faced with the other possibility of staying at home, means I am filled with happy memories, and now for example as Hubbie is at work and baby girl is asleep for her afternoon nap, I can recall our lovely breakfast we had at a nearby café yesterday morning, where the sun was shining, baby girl was content, and the food and coffee were great. That is a memory worth remembering, rather than the usual butter-and-vegemite toast Sundays.

And thoughts like ‘something better is waiting,’ and ‘life has its ups and downs,’ puts me in a conscious and balanced state, aware of the force of yin and yang. Knowing that life is a rollercoaster we are riding, with occasional things to jump out and scare us, with others to delight and surprise us, keeps me on my toes, and grateful for the joyous moments I receive. Additionally, if I don’t get my turn immediately on that rollercoaster, I tell myself ‘My time will come. Everyone gets a shot.’

What are some of your True Rules? What goes through your mind when making decisions and setting priorities in your day-to-day life?

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Doing, doing, to-dos…

Recently, after my blog post about How to MAKE it while doing it all, I came across a bit of an organisational revelation.

You see, ever since reading Richard Carlson’s Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff at the beginning of my I-can-achieve-anything revolution, I have learnt, and unsuccessfully have had to come to terms with the truth that your ‘Inbox’ will never be emptied out.

Your inbox, that being your to-do list, your list of chores, of people to meet up with, the things you need to buy, etc – if it’s a to-do, and it has to be done, hear this, and hear it well: you will never finish them ALL.

This has been difficult to accept from an over-accomplisher like myself. I thrive from having a to-do list, but too many things on my list and I get overwhelmed. Too little (I can’t believe it either but that does happen) I start to wane from my resolution to achieve them all, and begin to procrastinate on the tasks.

A month or so ago I did some simple things, things that I’ve been putting off for ages. Those tasks can be so menial, but because you’ve been thinking of doing it for 7 months, it suddenly becomes so hard. The thought of doing them becomes so big, simply due to the time spent thinking about it, rather than the actual fact of it being such a simple and minor task. But these tasks I did a couple of.

I did some other things too. Tidying, clearing, sorting – things that may seem so boring to some but that I find utterly therapeutic. It’s important to focus on your goals, your dreams, yes, but if your house is in clutter, so will your head be too. You need to clear ALL the clutter to really re-organise what you’re going for in your mind.

What really struck me, was the way I felt after doing these little jobs. To offer insight and example, they were:

1. To purchase a personal domain name: (note smikg.com now exists!)

2. to create a Goodreads account

That was it. The personal domain name I’d been thinking of for almost 6 months I think. Every time I logged into wordpress I’d see the familiar ‘purchase smikg.com for $18!’ I’d wanted to set up the Goodreads account for a while too, though for not as long.

What held me back on accomplishing these two tasks was:

1. time required

2. frame of mind

3. the length of time I’d been procrastinating on it.

I didn’t know how long the tasks of purchasing a domain/setting up a Goodreads account would take. Having a toddler I needed to find the adequate amount of time to do it, and yet I didn’t know what that would be. I needed to be alert and aware, especially for the setting up of my account, and so didn’t want to leave it ’til the end of the day when I usually was spent from everything. And the longer I put both these things off, the longer it took to muster the motivation to do them.

During baby girl’s nap one day I found myself at my laptop, and thought to myself ‘I need to purchase smikg.com/set-up Goodreads one day.’

My next thought was ‘why don’t I do it now? What am I waiting for?’

Within an hour, I’d done both. I was rapt. And the unbelievable thing was, now that those tasks were done, they were done! Finished. Things I’d been thinking of doing for so many months I could now cross off my to-do list, and they’d barely taken an hour to accomplish.

These are my points.

1. Just do it. Many jobs can be done so quickly if we just push our indecision/uncertainty/lazy arses to the side and get it done! Like Gretchen Rubin talks about in her book The Happiness Project, if a job takes less than 5 minutes to do, do it. Do it, do it, do it. You’d be amazed at how much you can do, and how much can be done, when you abide by this simple rule.

2. Categorise your to-dos. This has been a huge revelation to me. There is no disputing that there will always be something for you to do, and your inbox will always have a few bills waiting for you, with some minor house renovations waiting for your (un)skilled hand to have a go at. But if you categorise the things that will be complete once you’re done with it, versus your ongoing jobs, you will lift a load off your chest, let me tell you. My purchasing of my domain name and setting up Goodreads was a once off job, therefore I’m now done with it. However maintaining goodreads, and my wordpress account, is an ongoing job. I literally, LITERALLY have over 1000 photos waiting to be sorted and filed into photo albums (yes I’m old school, I still do that) spanning over 2 years since falling pregnant with baby girl. Sorting them all will be a temporary, massive hoorah! moment when it’s done, but then maintaining my photos will be ongoing. It’s important to categorise your jobs and tasks into once-off or ongoing things, just to save you some unnecessary headaches over a never-diminishing inbox.

3. Aim to get one ongoing and one once-off job done per week. If your tasks are so huge that you require more time, allow yourself the time required to fulfil them, but nonetheless, don’t procrastinate and make sure you stick to your aim. Also remember, a little bit of push and shove is necessary too. We get slack when we relax too much. Chipping away at your to-do list and getting things done, even at a slow pace, inspires you to want to do more! True story.

4. Get a cute notepad/diary/to-do list. Any smart person knows that pretty things actually work, because we suddenly want to use them and be ‘proactive.’ Whatever works my friends, whatever works.

Take a walk in my shoes, Baby

Today I’m tapping my fingers together in cheeky anticipation, Montgomery Burns of Simpsons-fame style:

Excellent.

While I’m at work, Hubbie has the entire week off, so he is doing the looking after baby girl duties.

Changing nappies.
Feeding.
Cleaning up.
Preparing meals.
Rocking to sleep.
Amusement and Play.
EVERYTHING.

🙂

My happiness is two-fold. One is attributed to the fact that I am so comfortable in the knowledge that she will be at home with her Dad, bonding with him, and because he is my Hubbie, of course as with many things he and I do things the same in our house, and I don’t have to worry about other people coming in to look after her and doing things different.

It’s a comfort thing.

The second has to do with the ‘let’s see how you do it’ approach. I am so fortunate to have a husband who is truly understanding and accepting of how hard it can be to get anything done during the day, even though at times I’m ‘just’ at home, all day. He won’t ask, but I find myself explaining why –

dinner is late/the house is a mess/I haven’t burnt the cds he’s wanted for 2 months/the laundry is drying all over the house 2 weeks after the fact

again and again and again. And the most common phrase out of my mouth is “be quiet, I don’t want her to wake up,” more common than your everyday usual “hi’s” and “bye’s”.

I am gaining so much satisfaction sitting here at work, wondering how he is tackling the looking after baby duties whilst getting everything else done.

Tee hee hee.

Just yesterday we had this convo:

Me: “You’ll have to do the grocery shopping tomorrow.”

Hubbie: “But I’m looking after baby girl.”

Me (with raised eyebrows): “so does that mean I don’t ever have to cook and clean when I look after her?”

(Another moment later on).

Me (breaking down baby girl’s schedule): “And then you feed her, and change her nappy…”

Hubbie: “So when do I do the shopping?”

Me (smiling with obvious glee): “in between changing her nappy and lunch. Everything you do has to work around HER.”

Excellent.

Despite my clear joy at Hubbie doing my usual job today, I am truly rapt with the arrangement, and I think to myself that this could really work: me working, while Hubbie looks after baby girl.

I don’t know if I’m looking forward to the end-of-day report from Hubbie (mischievous anticipation), his holiday vibe rubbing off on me (because who doesn’t love time off), whether it’s the recent re-introduction of alcohol into my life (last night’s red wine still in the system) or this morning’s coffee (coursing through my veins), but, all things considered, life is feeling pretty freaking good right now.

🙂 🙂 🙂

The Happiness Project says that one instance of happiness derives from the state of learning, discovery, growth. It’s the journey, not the destination, and boy are we on the journey of a lifetime right now.

This is life, and we’re living it.

Ahh. The over-analytical life of an aspiring writer.

Wrecked fingers

I just finished writing up 31 invitations and 31 envelopes to send out for baby girl’s 1st birthday. My index finger was totally crooked and bent inwards with grooves along one side where the pen was practically cemented. The feeling is returning, thank God. It didn’t look pretty.

Fortunately those muscles are now resting as I type. But it occurred to me. One of those ‘absolute truth’ insights that I’ve been reading about courtesy of my year-long reading task “The Happiness Project.” It’s nothing magnificently profound, but still, made me smile.

More often than not, the people who you can count as the closest in your life will be those who can identify your handwriting amongst those of strangers; and in my case, actually be able to read it too.

Having this lightbulb moment, I remembered a friend’s Baby Shower I attended earlier this year. She was in the ‘opening presents’ part of the afternoon, and upon coming across my present, looked at the card stuck on top of all that cello and immediately looked up at me. I was like “how did you know it was mine?” And she replied “I could tell from your handwriting.”

We’ve known each other for over 20 years. Although my handwriting has changed slightly every now and then, little subtleties have remained the same. Much luck our friendship I guess.

It’s moments like those that really make you think, when you discover with pleasant surprise that there are those around you, who really KNOW you.