Music Monday ~ Welcome, November!

Page and Print November Playlist 2018

How the heck is it already November!? I feel like time is not just marching on but it somehow got a hold of a fast Italian sports car and is steadily trying to run me over. This month is absolute madness around here and the holidays are just around the corner which means the list of things to do has multiplied a thousand-fold and is begging me to gift-wrap, bedazzle and hand-deliver every item while singing carols…and probably dancing too. Sheesh! I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

In an effort to tame just a bit of that madness I made a goal last year to get Christmas cards and neighbor gifts and the bulk of the shopping done by Thanksgiving so that we could spend the month of December in a state of relative relaxation just enjoying each other’s company and all the events and hoopla that will inevitably crop up. Little did I know that we would book a spontaneous trip to Ireland, that I’d take it into my head to plan a surprise party for my husband’s 50th birthday, have tickets to several concerts and performances, and start the month out with an awesome cold. Add to that the preparations for Thanksgiving and everything I need to do to help contribute to this amazing event at the end of the month, and well, there’s a lot on my plate. Needless to say it won’t all get done in the time or way I’d hoped but I’ve decided to just go with it rather than stressing. (We’ll see how well that works, but that’s the plan!)

So, my Christmas cards have become Thanksgiving cards which will give me a chance to shower my loved ones with gratitude for their influences in my life. And hopefully will be a bit more personal and standout rather than becoming lost in the deluge at Christmas time. It also gives me a great opportunity to share this Thanksgiving playlist with everyone. One of the things that has saved my sanity over and over again throughout my life is music. I firmly believe heaven will be one continual musical with people spontaneously breaking into song and dance at every opportunity (and I firmly believe that I will thus be blessed with the ability to dance!) So, as I will wish to everyone on my Christmas card list a few moments carved out of the craziness to be able to listen with those they love, so I wish to you.

And here are a few other things I’ve learned that have helped me make it through some of the busier moments:

  • Make a list! While it’s sometimes overwhelming to see the pages and pages of things that need to get done it makes it so much easier for me to group tasks together, prioritize and work out a plan of attack. Can you make phone calls while waiting in the carpool line? Can you group errands to save you some trips?
  • Make a list part 2. Take a really good look at that list. Can you outsource anything? Or drop it altogether? While we sometimes think that we need to do it all, honestly some things just aren’t important. If it’s not going to feed your soul (or your family) then maybe it doesn’t really need to be on the list. Be honest and brutal…it’s okay to say no, to buy cookies for the bake sale instead of making them, or let the kids skip out on soccer this season. The world won’t end. I promise.
  • Take time to take care of yourself. This one can be tough. It’s easy to justify skipping the workout to squeeze in another load of laundry or eating the cookies instead of an actual lunch but resist! The old adage ‘if mama ain’t happy ain’t nobody happy’ applies in spades here. If you’re well-rested and healthy you can take better care of everyone and everything. So find a few minutes to do some yoga or meditation, stock the fridge with some quick, healthy snacks, stick to your sleep routine; your immune system will thank you.
  • Take care of yourself part 2. Schedule in a few minutes daily to unplug, unwind, and really relax. This works especially well if it’s something out of the ordinary so that it truly feels like a splurge and gives your mind a chance to reboot. Grab an adult coloring book, savor a piece of fancy chocolate, take a walk and observe what’s around you, immerse yourself in a song or piece of music; whatever it is that makes you happy make sure you find a little time to do it fully and mindfully.

What are your favorite tips for preparing for a stressful event or time? (or keeping your sanity on a normal day?!) Any favorite songs you listen to around the holidays? I’d love to hear about them!

And good luck to all of you and whatever holiday madness may come your way. You’ve got this!

How Are You Spending Your Time?

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.   

Earlier this month the leader of my church challenged the members of our women’s organization to participate in a 10 day fast from social media. The goal being that we would take the time we would have spent on those mostly mindless tasks and devote that time instead to serving others, reading scripture, and bettering ourselves and our communities. I took the challenge to heart and was amazed at the results.

I was also amazed at how often I pick up my phone to ‘check in’. I found myself looking at my phone the first few days and not knowing what to do with it. It just goes to show just how much time I spend/waste doing relatively unimportant things! Lessons learned: I do not miss Facebook. More often than not it’s full of negativity and meaningless trifles. I did, however, miss Instagram. For now, at least, it’s filled with more positivity and uplifting images. But they all have a tendency to suck you into a time warp and so I’ve instituted a daily personal media fast from 9pm-9am going forward. And I’ve mostly stuck to it! 🙂

While pondering all of these thoughts I was reminded of this book that I read not too long ago. It talks a lot about the idea of opportunity cost in relation to our time management.  (Not being a business major I wasn’t super familiar with the concept, but basically when you make a choice to do one thing you automatically make choices to NOT do other things–ie, if you have $5 and spend it on candy bars you choose to NOT spend that $5 on rent–roughly.) And then it introduced the idea of a “stop-doing” list.  As one who lives by my many “to-do” lists I was intrigued. In order to accomplish any goal or make progress toward something (particularly something new) in your life you have to choose to stop doing something else in order to make room/time for it. To start a new exercise program you have to stop sleeping and get up 30 minutes earlier. To learn to paint you sign up for a class which means you have to cut back on the time you watch TV.  You get the idea. It’s all about priorities and what you are willing to sacrifice in order to do/be something better. (This is a fabulous talk on the same subject.)

I continually fall prey to this. There are so many things I want to do with my life that I dip my foot into as many pools as I can but I never actually go for a swim in any of them. My book is a prime example.  I tell myself I really want to write and I even go so far as to take a class every now and then, jot down a paragraph or two when the ideas strike and drag a notebook around with me wherever I go.  But I haven’t taken the firm step yet of cutting something out of my life to make room for it. I’m still not truly making it a priority. And that’s just one example. I’m a great dabbler and often pride myself in being well-rounded and interested in many things. And for the most part I’m really okay with that. But I sometimes forget that it comes at the cost of never truly excelling at anything. And one day I won’t have any more somedays to hope for. Am I going to look back and wish I’d done something different?

This video made the rounds on social media a few years ago. I was just as impressed re-watching it now as I was when I first saw it. It’s a rather startling visual…and I do love visuals! How much time do we all really have left?  And what are we doing with it?

I also found it really interesting to read the comments section on the youtube page. They tend to fall into two basic categories; some people found the video/facts depressing while others found them motivating. I think it’s safe to say that those who were depressed by it all probably spend less time doing what they love than they’d like.  Looking back at years spent scrolling through facebook versus actually picking up that guitar and learning how to play has got to be discouraging. Those who were motivated either realize that they need to seize the day and finally do what they keep talking about or have already found a way to do it and really enjoy and savor the time that they have.

The key, for me, is balance. Set some limits for yourself along with some goals. There’s nothing wrong with vegging on the couch catching up on Netflix to unwind after work. But if that’s all you ever do then you’ll never get anything else done. Limiting your veg time to say one show each night will give you time to focus on something else. Make it something that really excites you but also start with small, manageable steps. When you find yourself succeeding at those you’ll be motivated to take the next steps and pretty soon we’ll all be clamoring to see you perform or buy your book.

Another key is appreciation. Accepting and savoring what is instead of wishing for something else can be invaluable (especially when those things are outside of your control.) Spend time with those you love doing the things you love and you’ll be able to look back at your life with very few regrets. This is a great time to practice this as we move into the holiday season. Instead of jamming your schedule so full of things to do and places to go, take advantage of the moments you have to slow down and enjoy. Cuddle up and watch movies together, buy some fancy hot chocolate and really taste and savor it, marvel at the first snowfall or bring out your inner child by starting a snowball fight.  ‘Tis the season for hygge! (Check out this past post about hygge and Hobbits for some more ideas!)

My challenge to you (and myself) over the next couple of weeks is to find 3 things you can put on your “stop-doing” list, be they big or small. And then use that re-claimed time to try something new, start a new project, or re-focus on a goal you’ve set that keeps getting put on the back burner. You only have so many hours in a day and nothing you do will change that, therefore you can only change what you do with them. What are you doing with yours? I want to hear all about it in the comments below. 🙂

P.S. Want a great kid’s book connection to go with the video? Check out How Many Jelly Beans? by Andrea Menotti.

Words of Wisdom ~ Don Blanding

Chiang Mai Thailand

For as long as I can remember I’ve been at war with myself.  I long for adventure yet I crave the comforts of home.  My soul seeks new people and places to discover while simultaneously wanting longevity and stability and sameness in my surroundings and relationships.

I stumbled on this poem by Don Blanding recently and it sums up my struggles perfectly.

This blog is partly a celebration of that split personality complex.  The simpler and finer things in life, the ways I seek to branch out and explore this amazing world around us and the ways I seek to enrich but simplify my daily sphere of influence which is sometimes so small it’s nearly microscopic.

As an introvert my natural tendencies are to do things like curl up in a fluffy blanket with a mug of peppermint tea and a good book and stay there forever. If I’m feeling really brave (and the weather is cooperative) I’ll venture outside and do a little reading under the shade of a friendly tree. Not a bad existence, really. But there’s also this insatiable itch inside me that has become more and more persistent with the passing years. I think I did a pretty good job of ignoring it all through high school and college until finally, one day it would no longer be ignored.

I never set out to travel the world, or move thousands of miles from home to live in a place where I didn’t know a soul, or even to learn to play the harmonica but I’ve done all of those things and more. And while at first they happened sort of accidentally, I’ve begun to learn how to listen to that itchy inner voice and plan adventures on purpose, as well (it’s a lot more fun that way!)

Some days the introvert wins the battle and some days the adventurer claims the victory but only time will tell which side will ultimately win the war. Accidents still happen, and adventure still isn’t my default setting. I still love to escape into a world where the only conversation that occurs is between fictional characters on a printed page.  But I’m looking forward to a lifetime of continued adventures, big or small, accidental or otherwise, and sharing a few of them here with you.

P.S. I’d love to hear about your adventures as well!  Comments are always appreciated!

**Photo taken in Chiang Mai, Thailand