When little things add up…

“Don’t put off until tomorrow what can you can do today.” 
Benjamin Franklin

I used to hate this quote. It bothered me in a way I can’t quite describe, but it was somewhere in the neighborhood of guilt and pressure and frustration (why, oh why can’t I just friggin’ do things when they make the most sense?). But…but.

Over the past few months, I’ve started to revise my views. I have, dare I say it, reversed my opinion on this matter. But let me explain. (It will all make more sense then.)

My only New Year’s Resolution for 2015 was to get my work email under control. I’m notoriously bad at email management. At work, my inbox is so big (even with the IT department’s policy of deleting all messages after a year) that I’ve crashed Outlook before. Every time I decided to take it in hand, I’d get so overwhelmed that I’d stop almost immediately. But when I returned from my holiday vacation, I took a new tack. I moved all the 2014 messages from my inbox into a separate folder and then vowed to keep my inbox clear. Two months in, and I take an inflated sense of accomplishment from keeping my inbox confined to one screen — I deal with things as they come in, and then I move on. It’s great. (Yes, I know this is a normal thing for other people. But the change. Oh man, the change. I feel so powerful.)

Similarly, I recently undertook a massive (and much-needed) deep clean of my apartment. I’m not a hoarder, but I’m lazy and hate cleaning — and I have a high threshold for clutter and scuzz. Let’s just say, it wasn’t pretty. So it took a very important visitor whom I desperately wanted to impress to light a fire under me. After a few weekends spent doing nothing other than cleaning, organizing, decluttering, and otherwise making things look nice and neat, my guest came and left, and I had two thoughts: (1) It’s really nice to have everything clean and picked up, and (2) I never want to do that again. So I started putting things back where they belong right away, wiping surfaces down regularly, sweeping the floor even when I couldn’t see piles of cat hair. And it’s was the most amazing thing: I feel so accomplished. So satisfied. I’m almost starting to like cleaning. Unimaginable, but true.

So after 32 years, I finally get what old Ben F. was on about. I take care of things as they arise, and I don’t wake up each morning stifled by the specter of a long to-do list. Things I used to hate, things I used to avoid (because, clearly, they would go away if I ignored them, right?) started to lose their power. And the strangest thing of all is that I found them immensely satisfying. Empowering, even.

I won’t go so far as to say that it’s the key to happiness (because, really, there is no one key that I’ve found), but it certainly doesn’t hurt.

Bass Ackward

My dad is fond of swearing without actually swearing. It’s the act of making a point without triggering censure. (Or at least that’s the idea. It doesn’t always turn out that way…) One of his favored approaches is to swap the first letters of words in a phrase that would otherwise be unfit for delicate ears. That’s how we end up with Bass Ackward. (I’ll give you a moment to untangle that and realize that, no, it isn’t just an embarrassing typo.)

It’s no secret that I started this blog at a point in my life when happiness was a theoretical concept, a faint memory. All I wanted was to be happier. I wanted to figure out how to build a life that brought me joy. A good goal, definitely. And I even made some progress. But then I hit a rut, and my half-hearted efforts to drag myself back out just created a wider, deeper track. One day I woke up and realized I was staring up at the sky from the bottom of my own emotional Grand Canyon. That might be a wee bit over-dramatic (and by “might” I mean “absolutely”). It’s not that things were so bad; they just weren’t particularly good, and I felt mired in it. What I wanted was there, but it seemed just out of reach.

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And then, one random, magical day, my mind opened itself up and embraced one of those truths about the world that sounds simple in theory but is remarkably challenging to internalize.

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Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in

So. It’s been awhile. A long while. It’s possible (er, probable) that “awhile” isn’t the right term for this scenario. I’ve broken the covenant between blogger and reader. Bad llama. (Emperor’s New Groove, anyone? Also, it’s possible that this picture is an alpaca, not a llama. All I know is it always makes me laugh and imagine a crazy uncle…)

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Here’s the thing. I enjoyed writing this here blog, but I realized that it fed right into some of my more vexing personality quirks, namely that setting myself a goal is the surest way to rob me of all motivation to do it. And blogging was crowding out other things. Important life things. I got lost in a big ball of stress, aaaaaand…here we are, almost two years later.

Let’s just call it a hiatus. And let’s also say that I’m back. Provisionally. On an as-yet-undetermined schedule. I feel like I need to re-introduce myself to this process, to this wee corner of the internet that I created and then abandoned. I have no idea what it will look like or how it will work, but I know that I’ve missed this. Missed the outlet. Missed you.

So, this is me peeking my head out, peering around, and deciding to slide back in. The good news? In terms of building a happier life? Lots of progress. Can’t wait to tell you about it.

Twelve Days of Instagram Redux

Helloooooo. it’s been awhile, I know. I will simply say that the month of January and I do not get along, and leave it at that.

But now it’s February, and so I’ve returned from hibernation…shyly peering around the corner, hoping for forgiveness. And ready to bring you long-overdue posts, such as this one.

Back in the middle of December, I challenged myself to post at least one picture to Instagram for 12 days in a row. Unlike my Year of the Russian Novel, I actually completed it. Would you care to see the output? Well, read on, MacDuff! Continue reading

Happy new year!

It is completely my style to belatedly wish you a happy new year; but fortunately, the year is still brand-spanking new (and will continue to be until about April, when I finally stop writing 2012 on my checks).

It’s 2013, which seems crazy to me. We were expecting flying cars by now, right? Obviously, not everything turn out how one expects. For example, if things had gone according to the plans of my 10 year old self, 2013 would have found me married to an early 90s teen heartthrob who shall remain nameless and the mother to three kids. (I had a very active imagination and a love of lists.)

In all seriousness, I wish each and every one of you peace, adventure, and joy in 2013.

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Midweek Musings: Christmas Edition

This week 12.24Image sources: Snowy morning, Christmas tree, Christmas lights

Merry Christmas, everyone! (Or, if you’re in the UK, Happy Christmas!) This week, it’s been a good old nostalgia-fest, as I’ve been indulging all my favorite memories of Christmases past. Everything on this list fills me with warm-fuzzies, or exhilaration, or wonder, or peace, or, in one case, a sugar high you can’t even imagine. And so I thought I’d share with you, if you’re curious to learn more…

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Midweek Musings: Road Trip Edition

As you read this, I am probably somewhere in the wilds of Western New York State, hanging out with my dear friend, AFlo, who is visiting from Berlin. It is almost certain that we are listening to music and dancing around (as that is what we do). What are we listening to? I’m so glad you asked!This Week 12.17Christmas lights: sweetclipart.com

A bit of background. AFlo and I met the first day of college orientation and have been inseparable pretty much ever since (living on different continents notwithstanding). We got into the habit of making a mix CD for each term, filled with whatever songs we were listening (and dancing) to at the time. So there was no question that there needed to be a mix for this trip. (Or playlist, as the kids are calling them these days.)

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