Starting Over with Habits

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I know when I’m productive. I love the rhythm of daily practice once I’m steadily engaged in healthy habits. I thrive with the structure as well as the encouragement I feel from the momentum as I build on a skill day by day.

You know how life tends to derail us all at one time or another. And for me, when one habit falls by the wayside, I feel so much like a failure I tend to let others slip out of focus as well. Before I realize it, I let weeks go by without doing the things I know keep me sharp and challenge me to greater things.

Here is a list of some habits I have made my own:

Morning Pages

Bullet Journaling

Practicing Piano

Blogging

Gratitude Journaling/Being Thankful

Exercise

Reading

Taking supplements

Walking

Taking Photos

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After a season of upside down, I am returning to a sort-of normal and incorporating these back into my daily life. It makes me feel like I’m a worthy and useful human. Getting up early, going to the gym, doing Morning Pages and updating my bullet journal, and generally accomplishing good and healthy things help me function well throughout my day.

If I know I exercised, I can check it off my list, plus my body is less likely to feel stiff or sore if I got my heart rate up and body warm with cardio, did some resistance training and stretched afterward. If I took my supplements, particularly my B vitamins and my probiotics, I’ll have more energy and digest my food better. Practicing piano relaxes me when I’ve been writing or working at some other task for too long. Getting outside for a walk when I’m stressed or just to think a little brings me new perspective and reminds me how small my problems are when think about the vastness of our planet and space. Making time to read, fills my mind with other people’s voices, points of view, stories and ideas, so I get out of my head and learn. Practicing gratitude helps me rise above the melancholy I tend to fall into as an INFJ.

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Do you have a list of habits that help you live better? I’d love to hear from you!

Day 19: Flow and NaNoWriMo

 

1CBABC93-BDCF-4020-B2F9-85382DB7E6CEAccording to Wikipedia, “In positive psychology, flow, also known as the zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does, and a resulting loss in one’s sense of space and time.” ( Read more at wikipedia about Flow. )

And that’s what I got into today. Four or five solid, uninterrupted hours of totally absorbing, fulfilling and satisfying work throughout the afternoon gave me such a sense of accomplishment. Mostly because I haven’t had this lately and have felt frustrated about it, it felt particularly great. I sewed continuously and everything worked. or once, no stitches to pick out, no epic fails. I just made lots of cute things and cut out shapes for more.

Although I haven’t read his book Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World yet, I’ve heard Cal Newport interviewed on Todd Henry’s The Accidental Creative Podcast and know I struggle with focus and steering clear of distractions. This book is on my Kindle and I need to read it ASAP.

Here is a blog post by Srini Rao about Flow and Deep Work and ways he has oriented his own life toward this way of working.

Speaking of Flow and Deep Work, I am gearing up for NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. I need to announce my novel on their site soon and am petrified. Has anyone ever participated in this or attempted it?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on flow and deep work experiences and anything you know about NaNoWriMo.

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Day 14: Order and Beauty

9c50a14f-319f-453f-a8ae-7a94fd42fc4e.jpegEver since I moved here, I’ve been wanting to tackle the tiny back room off the kitchen. It’s kind of like a screened-in porch because it isn’t heated, but it has four windows and a large closet, wooden floors and cute wooden steps leading up to it.

It was filled up with boxes and packing material Alan saves for when he has to ship his paintings somewhere. And it had random things his kids had outgrown or he no longer had use for.

I’ve always thought it would be great to have a writing desk, chair and an arm chair or two with a few lamps, a small table and a stack of books. Oh, and an area rug as well.

Sometimes when Alan’s working in his office, which is the room next to the library, with his music on, and his son is in his room overhead with his music on, the library feels sandwiched between cacophony. If I’m trying to think, I need a quiet place to do that in.

So today, we pulled everything out of the room and closet. Alan decided what needed to be saved, what could go up into the attic, what was junk, what should be recycled and what could go to goodwill. I dusted, sprayed, wiped, swept, vacuumed and mopped. Most likely, that was just the first few layers that I removed because he hasn’t used the room all the years he’s lived there. (Over 13.) But it is much cleaner now.

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I set up a diffuser with lavender, eucalyptus and tea tree essential oils to freshen up the room, sprayed the chair with an essential oil spray I made and tacked up some fairy lights around the windows. Sage from the garden is drying on the window sill, a stack of books sits on the side table and the change is amazing. Every time I walk by I can’t believe how inviting it feels already.

 

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I still need to paint the room, the steps and railing in the spring, pull all the weeds around the steps, plant some tulips and daffodils and some perennials, etc. But we did it! We made it a space that fosters relaxation and creativity. I’ll be sure to show the progress here on the blog as it happens.

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Day 11: Daily Rituals and Songwriting Goals

I’ve read Daily Rituals: How Artists Work , or at least a good chunk of it. I was fascinated to find out how famous creative people ordered their lives. They seemed more human, more accessible and less god-like.

I am currently re-ordering my life, finding my balance and figuring out how to be a thriving creative. My current set of habits or rituals upon rising are: coffee, gym and writing, crafting or practicing music throughout the day.  This is all in-between chores and errands and caring for my kids.

Because I’m taking part in this month-long Write 31 Days project, I am blogging at night. This feels last minute. I’d like to change that and begin blogging mid-morning. And as far as music goes, when Alan and I have a gig, we always practice at least once the week of. So we need to this week (AKA tomorrow).

In addition to practicing our covers, I know we need to write music. It’s been looming on the horizon for a while, but the reality has landed. We need to do it NOW. There are several venues we would like to play in that will only allow originals performed. So I’m wondering if we can come up with 28 songs for a two-hour show. We currently have two written.

If we aim for January, that’s approximately nine songs a month, or about two per week. No pressure! No problem! Needless to say, I am brainstorming and writing down phrases, titles and recording snippets of melody. It’s time to make this happen.

What are your daily rituals and goals?