Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I Do Hard Things

I work from home an hour or two a day, and recently a coworker asked me to take on a new project. It’s complicated, tedious work, and I had a very hard time motivating myself to do it, but I knew it was important and no one else had a spare minute to devote to it.

One day, when I’d done every other task I possibly could but still struggled to start on the new project, I suddenly remembered STM’s post about a book called “Do Hard Things.” As I stared at my computer I thought to myself, “I do hard things,” then plunged into the project. Somehow, that mental declaration gave me the determination I needed to get started.

Practically every day since, when I’ve stared down the barrel of that darn project, I’ve found myself saying again, “I do hard things.” It gives me the momentum to begin, and gradually it’s getting easier for me to start on the task even without my little mantra. As Emerson wisely noted, “That which we persist in doing becomes easier, not that the task itself has become easier, but that our ability to perform it has improved.” Thank heaven.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


My friend STM feels driven to write and publish a novel. I don't. I like the idea of publishing something (possibly an essay or historical work, since I have absolutely no talent for writing fiction), but I just don't feel a burning need to see my words printed and bound.

Nevertheless, I do feel utterly driven to write. That may surprise you, since I recently went over a month without posting anything here (sorry about that). Actually, most of my writing is done in my journal. This year alone, I've written 129 pages filled with 82,535 words. It took me months to compose a mere ten pages of my master's thesis, yet I often find myself writing a page a day in my journal about our adventures, my musings, or just the mundane joys and frustrations of marriage and parenthood.

Why do I regularly stay up past midnight writing (and even proofreading and revising) things that no one else may ever read in my lifetime--or after it, for that matter? It's crazy. I need sleep. Yet, when something's on my mind, recording or sorting through it seems so much more important than the sleep I'm missing out on. My journals and I have been burning midnight oil by the gallon since high school, and we'll probably keep doing it for the rest of my life. Maybe someday I'll understand why.

Babies Don't Bother with Small Talk

Phillip had a rough afternoon recently, and though I did my best to cheer him up, the thing that seemed to help him most was spending some time with Baby Daniel. Mere moments after Phillip picked him up, his cares seemed to melt away and the two were smiling and laughing together.

I’ve noticed that babies often have that effect on people. Pedestrians who barely make eye contact with me will smile and possibly even stop to talk to my kids. I do the same thing with other people’s babies and toddlers, but I can’t quite put my finger on the reason why I feel so comfortable interacting with young children, but often so uncomfortable connecting with their parents. Perhaps it is because children are simpler. You don’t have to read between the lines with them, or sift through small talk long enough to find a common interest. You just have to be friendly and they are usually friendly back.

Interaction with children may also be more comfortable because they are non-threatening. They don’t categorize or judge you. Kids don’t rate people as better or worse than them; they either play with you or ignore you, but they never reject you. You’re free to be yourself around them, because all they really care about is whether you’re warm and cheerful, as well. I suppose that's one reason the Lord told us to be childlike. It would be a much gentler world if we cared more about whether a person was good and kind than whether they were better, worse, or different from us.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Are You Prepared For This?

Phillip and I attended some preparedness seminars at our chapel today. Of course, since we're preparedness-challenged, we forgot to prepare accommodations for our toddler so she ended up coming with us.

We learned a lot of helpful things this afternoon, and I'm excited to put some of them into practice. I suppose it says something about my priorities that my favorite thing I learned was a simple food storage recipe that I could actually bear to eat. You just cook 2 cups of dry macaroni or other pasta (I use Barilla Plus Multigrain pasta because it tastes like regular pasta but is much more nutritious), then drain it and stir in a can of cream of mushroom soup and a 12oz can of canned chicken from Costco. And that's it. It's tasty in an unassuming sort of way, and it would be easy to jazz up with whatever seasonings you're in the mood for (curry or Italian seasoning come to mind).

My other favorite thing I learned was that Katadyn makes simple purifying drink bottles that you can fill with nearly a liter of clear water, then immediately squeeze filtered, drinkable water out the top. They filter out bacteria, viruses, you name it. I've heard you get a bit of a workout squeezing the water out, but I love the simplicity of the concept. I think I know what's going on my birthday list this year . . .

Saturday, June 6, 2009

One of Those Days

As a parent you learn a lot about efficiency and planning ahead, but no matter how much experience you gain, you still make mistakes now and then. Like today, when I gave my toddler a cupcake an hour AFTER I vacuumed.

Crumbs. Ev.Er.Y.Where. Sigh. Next time we shall eat the cupcake outside, methinks.

As if that weren't enough, I also dressed her in white pants before we went outside to play with sidewalk chalk. Yeah. I know.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Another Lousy Peach

During my brief sojourn in mortality, I've learned there are certain irrefutable laws of the universe. For example:

1) For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
2) The harder you work to pass a slowpoke on the road, the sooner you'll find yourself stuck behind a slowerpoke (whereupon the first slowpoke will promptly catch up to you, and probably laugh).
3) Entropy (i.e. disorder, randomness) tends to increase over time (especially if toddlers are involved).
4) I have absolutely no skill for selecting ripe peaches. None. Zero. The end.