Momentum

I’ve been thinking lately about and idea I’ve started to think of as momentum and the areas of my life in which I do and don’t have any.

I heard once that 95% of the battle of working out is putting your shoes on and closing the front door behind you. I think about that almost every time I work out because it is so so true for me, and actually applies to a lot of things that I do. Things that, like working out, are good for me, that I LOVE doing once I’m actually doing them, that I am always happy I did after I do them, that would make me happier, more fulfilled, etc. etc. but why on earth are those things just so hard to do sometimes?! I’ve been learning the life lesson that sometimes you just have to START what it is that you want to do. My new tactic is timer setting. I used this with doing family history, which was something I really wanted to be spending time doing and learning about, but I had no idea how and the whole thing just seemed daunting. I didn’t know how to get going, so I decided that once a week, every Sunday, I was going to spend 30 minutes on family history. I would set a timer for 30 minutes and do whatever I could, and when the 30 minutes was up, I could be done. Sometimes that only meant figuring out what my username and password on ancestry.com was. Sometimes it meant emailing a friend asking them a question about getting started. Or watching a couple video tutorials. It was slow going at first, but eventually I knew enough and had enough momentum that sometimes the timer would end and I’d keep going for hours just because I could and wanted to. Now I know where to go, what to do, what to read, how to use programs, and there are endless hours I could spend on family history without getting stuck.

I hear people say all the time that they want to be better at journaling. Or blogging. Or exercising regularly. And for things like this, daily habit items, a little bit of momentum goes a long way. When I used to bike a ton, hopping on my bike and going on a 30 or 60 minute bike ride was no big deal. Last week, I decided I wanted to go on a ride after thinking and thinking about it for weeks, finally drummed up the energy, but it took me almost an hour just to get out my bike, pump up the tires, find my helmet, water bottle and biking shorts. I gave up on finding my gloves and patch kit, then dinked around on googlemaps trying to figure out a good route for how far I wanted to go, yada yada yada, it was waaaay more effort than it used to be, but once I get into the groove of doing it and it’s habit again, it won’t be nearly so hard. Starting the project is the hardest part, and once you’ve started, all you have to do is just chip away at it every day. An object set in motion will stay in motion. . . or something like that.

I’ve noticed a phenomenon about my evenings. I put my kids to bed really early (for sanity purposes) and depending on what time I’m trying to get to bed, (read: how desperately exhausted I am) I have about 2-3 hours to do whatever I want. I’m sure every mother of young kids knows that those hours are precious. For me, I’m probably starving, dinner leftovers need to be put away and my house could use an hour (or seven) of solid cleaning time. I want to spend a good chuck of time bookbinding, but also I need to RELAX! rejuvenate, maybe read a magazine, zone out on social media for a minute, take a hot shower, watch a show and have ice cream with Tanner, take time for spiritual upliftment, and . . . two hours is not a very long time amiright? And the phenomenon I’ve noticed is that what I usually spend almost all of those two hours doing is whatever I started doing during the first 10 minutes of it. If I go straight up to my loft and start working, I will gain momentum and get a ton done. If I sit down with dinner and a magazine, I’ll want to finish the article I’m reading and spend longer than I intended. If I decided I’m going to spend a quick 15 minutes loading the dishwasher and switching the laundry, I usually won’t stop after that–I’ll wipe down the counters, pick up the toys, and keep going because I caught a second wind and it really won’t take that long to get things looking really clean. And if I pull up Facebook, I will still be on it an hour later, kicking myself for wasting my precious downtime.

I’m not trying to do hear is convince you to maximize your efficiency during these hours and get as much as possible done. What I am endorsing is using your time to actually do what it is you want to do and what will bring you the most benefit. Where do I feel depleted? Does my body, mind, or spirit need the most help right now? Do I want to create and accomplish something I’ve been wanting to do, or do I need to veg? If cruising pinterest or binge watching The Mindy Project is just what you need  that night, then by all means go for it! But if you accidentally did that instead of what really would have filled your cup, you’re probably going to go to bed wondering why you never have enough time to do what you want.

Right now I have some good momentum going with my etsy shop, with organization, with meal planning and cooking—but. . . exercise has stopped dead in its tracks, I rarely write, and my guitar has gathered much dust. That’s okay because, a time and a season, and you can’t be awesome at all the categories all the times, but sometimes I unintentionally gain momentum in areas that I really don’t need or want any. (I think that’s how the science of addiction reads right?) Any I’ve realized than most of the time, if I wish I had something better under control, or was dedicating more of myself to some dust-covered area of my life, it takes much less than I used to think to get the ball uprooted from it’s resting place, gaining a little bit of speed, and then forging ahead full force.

And after I wrote this (and thinking I’d come up with that clever timer trick all on my own), you know what, I found out that Elizabeth Gilbert already wrote it better than me, so dang it, here you go:

“Don’t wait for the world to clear out time and space for your dreams and your art. It doesn’t happen that way. The world rushes in, and always will. Wait for things to be perfect and you’ll die waiting. Push back a bit. You go get yourself a kitchen timer and clear out your own little space. You’ll be amazed what happens.

Every single day. 30 minutes. I’m serious.”

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7 Quick Takes

  1. Well, the beginning of this school year really just reads out like a Series of Unfortunate Events–the flat tire, the poison ivy, the stomach flu Labor day weekend from hell, the $1,052 bill I got in the mail from the water company because they forgot to be sending us water bills for the past 15 months we’ve lived here. . . wtf KC Water Services? W. T. F. !?!?? two pricey car repairs, oh, and then the dishwasher breaking. Washing dishes by hand is like, the funnest ever.

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But don’t worry readers, Tanner’s new tutoring position is paid and really bringing home the bacon

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Almost an entire Andrew Jackson. This is what financial security looks like, folks.

Remarkably, despite all of that, I’m feeling like this year is going to be a whole lot harder for Tanner, but easier on me. It’s nice to not be new–I think I hate being new. I have friends now, I’m busier than I was last year, and I know how to get more than 3 places without the help of my gps. Things are on the up & up.

2. I need some flannel. Like, why don’t I own 10 flannel shirts? I guess probably because flannel wasn’t cool at H & M 3 years ago when Maddy was buying all the shirts that she just handed down to me. So, when did flannel come to H & M?  because I am likely to inherit some a couple years after whenever that was.

3. Meg Conley is my absolute favorite blogger right now. Her last piece blew me away and little strings of words from it have been running themselves around my brain and won’t leave me alone since I read it. Anyone else a fan?

4.  It took me until our 5 year anniversary to grow my post-wedding mistake of a hair chop back–but it’s back! I’m full circle back to my old do (this is even after a 2-3 inch trim!), and let’s be honest, I’m probably going to have this same haircut until the day I dieIMG_3789

5. That royals game we went to in August with lots of other med school families
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6. This is drew chowing down asian cabbage salad by the handful without discrimination towards raw cabbage, peppers, spinach, or red onions, while camryn is telling me “mom, in nursery today they gave us square cheese crackers and I don’t like the square kind, I only like the fish kid.”

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7.  That moment you’re pulling out winter clothes and find 2 adorable summer baby outfits you didn’t realize you had and it’s almost enough to make you wish summer would stick around for another month or two.  Almost. IMG_3730

Bonus adorable children photos since I happen to have some adorable children on hand.

IMG_3395 IMG_3386 IMG_3446_2 IMG_3877 IMG_3852 IMG_3663 IMG_3654_2 IMG_3624 IMG_3605_2 IMG_3604 IMG_3601love that morning zombie gaze. . .
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Drew has always been a really really happy chill guy, but has recently taken a turn for the grumpier. I hope it’s a phase, but he also starting sleeping 11 hours through the night without exception since mid August, so I’m thrilled about that!

These 7 quick takes brought to you by writers block.

The End.

Namaste.

Oh Hey Target, Good Job

One early summer afternoon, long before target’s announcement that they are phasing out gender based signage, I stood in their water toys aisle trying to select a flotation device for my two year old daughter. I was annoyed and confused. I wanted a “puddle jumper” and had two options– a pink and purple one with a hideous plastic dolphins face coming out of the front of it, or one with a blue and green turtles design that was much cuter in my opinion. One was clearly being marketed as the “girls” puddle jumper, and the other was for boys. As a consumer, I was getting the loud and clear message that I was to buy the pink and purple dolphins contraption for my daughter, but I couldn’t bring myself to. It was ugly. And what if my next kid was a boy? I’d get a lot of eyebrows putting a boy in the pink one, and maybe a few, but far fewer putting a girl in the green one. I walked out of there with the turtle alternative wondering what on earth pink dolphins and green turtles have to do with girls and boys anyway.

When I read the headline that target was phasing out gender based signage my jerk reaction was a fist pump. I read the article and target’s official statement on the matter which prompted still more fist pumping. (Tangent–the truth is that my initial glee came because I misread the headline and thought that this new policy was going to apply to all children’s clothing. And I am so tired of gender specific children’s clothing!! It should all be gender neutral until they hit Kindergarten. Because all that would mean for me is not being expected to purchase an entire new wardrobe for my baby boy instead of dressing him in his older sisters hand me downs. Gender specific clothing is a joke. But that’s a blog post for another day.) Then I started reading  some comments and descended slowly into a pit of despair, gloom, and apparent imminent destruction. Funny how comments sections can do that. I was completely floored and dismayed by the conservative backlash against this announcement. Many swore a boycott and railed that the world is headed towards the notion that gender doesn’t matter or even exist. Religious conservatives were freaking out about how boys and girls are different and gender differences matter.

But here’s the thing– gender differences DO matter, but they have nothing to do with the color of your child’s bedsheets or legos.  I believe that gender is essential to our identity and that men and women have distinctly different, inherently feminine and masculine God-given characteristics that are that equip them for fulfilling their roles in a family unit. I don’t want my kids or grandkids growing up in a world where the notion of those differences is outdated and politically incorrect. But I want to grab and shake the shoulders of every religious conservative out there freaking out that removing blue and pink sectioning and changing the gender stereotyped way that their gender stereotyped toys are displayed is going to end the world. Think about what gender differences actually truly mean to you–the parts really matter, the character traits that you want your daughters and sons to emulate. Do you feel that the current status quo of kids toys does anything for those values of yours? I just google imaged “girl toys” and was horrified. The vast majority of those products tell our girls that they should be completely obsessed with their self image. The kind of dolls being marketed these days have nothing to do with fostering nurturing traits–they are about perfecting bodies, make-up, hair, and obsessing over outfits. Beauty counters, blowdryers, jewelry kits, with a smattering of kitchens and t-sets. These are the toys being marketed to our girls. There was also a vacuum. And some grocery store and food kits. And every single blasted thing on there is pink. Do the same for boys and you get cars, action figures, sports equipment, building sets, tool kits, trains, nurf guns, gameboys, drumsets. Toys of all colors.

I don’t like that at all. So excuse me while I not only celebrate Targets announcement, but hope that my daughter makes it to at least the 3rd grade without developing an eating disorder and a crappy self esteem. I want her to walk into toy sections full of all kinds of toys that encourage her to imagine, move, create and explore, without being limited by gender stereotypes and marketing. And that doesn’t mean that I don’t think it matters that she’s a girl. It just means that I want her to know that girls can play with cars too. And drive them. Or build them, design them, fix them, or shoot them. Their bodies need just as much exercise as boys do, so it’s cool if they are into basketball hoops and skateboards. They have just as much intellectual ability to conduct science experiments or build model airplanes and just as much potential in this world to become an amazing scientist or engineer.

I think that the social conservatives are kicking themselves in the foot with this one. If they continue to hyperventilate about pink and blue sheets and promote arbitrary stereotypes that don’t actually have anything to do with the gender differences they believe in, the next generation isn’t going to buy it. If you keep telling girls that their Womanhood is divinely inspired, and then hand them pink sparkly beauty kits to play with, they are eventually going to reject the entire message of femininity altogether–as the package that society handed it to them in. If you want your kid to have a strong sense of gender identity, recognize this one as the victory that it is–at least they won’t be shaking their heads like I am wondering what on earth pink dolphins and green turtles have to do with any of it.