The John Lewis holiday ad got me again. Yes, I’m fully aware I’m being emotionally manipulated by a department store, and it’s ridiculous and callous on one level, but….it’s really well done blackmail. It did get me thinking about all my past Christmas presents and if any gifts had a similar long-echoing effect into adulthood.
I couldn’t come up with a single gift like Sir Elton, but each year there would be five or six new books laid out under the tree and trying to decide which one to read first was one of my favorite parts of Christmas morning. This year I’ve read over 75 books, written a book, visited the library so much I know all the librarian’s names, and still get excited just to browse through any bookshop. Feels like that had an impact.
On the other hand, the ad also has me reconsidering the kid’s crayon melter gift. I’m not sure there’s a big future job market in smelting….
Working mostly from home can be a blessing and a curse. No commute? Awesome. More things being added to your to-do list? Not awesome. Being able to get the kids off the bus? Awesome. Being constantly at war with yourself over outside distractions? Not awesome.
It’s that last one that can be both mentally and physically draining. You get to the end of the day and find that you have little to show for a so-called full day of work. All those little requests, distractions, and lingering tasks have snuck into and taken over your day like time-eating termites.
How can you take back control of your day and feel like you accomplished something?
Here are the tips, tricks, strategies, and hacks that I use to deal with my top four distractions.
This past weekend was the Angel Run, one of the big annual 5k charity races in our town. It brings out all kinds of runners and walkers, but a majority are kids, families, or the unlucky ones pushing sleighs (strollers). It’s a great atmosphere and a lot of fun.
I realize for some people the word fun and run don’t belong together. Not me, but I’m sure they are out there. If you’re one of those people, here are a few more reasons you might consider entering a local 5k fun run.
Joy to the World brought on a near epic meltdown at the piano this week. Always a fun situation that gets Michelle reaching for the wine and Ally scuttling to hide in the closet. It also brings to mind what might be the number one question I have as a parent: how do you teach your kids perseverance? Can you teach it? Can it only be learned through maturity and experience?
Did I mention it was the first time she tried to play the song? Cecilia has some aptitude for music, which is probably why we’ve gotten this far, but often has little interest in continuing any activity where mastery doesn’t seem close. She’s still excited about the trombone, but I know we’re getting near that first whiff of resistance where things won’t be so easy. What happens then? What’s the best way bridge the gap between fun and actual progress?
I realize she’s only 9 and perseverance is mostly learning to plod along in the dark until you stumble on a light switch, but I worry she won’t stick with anything long enough to see the results. She’s stubborn as all get out, but stubborn and persistent are slightly different, right? She will try it her way until her fingers bleed and we are all begging her to stop. I’d like to see her be resolute in getting to her goals, not just butting her head against that wall.
Perhaps Saturday would offer some life lessons….
A bit more of an eclectic mix than my normal diet of commercial thrillers from the past few months. I was particularly surprised by how much I enjoyed Silence of the Lambs despite being familiar with the movie. The book still holds up remarkably well (if you look past the very dated tech) and if you read in the genre at all, you can see that Harris’s work is still having an impact on books today.
I was going to ride the bike today, but never really felt motivated to actually get downstairs on the trainer. So I never did. And that’s okay. I don’t feel guilty. At least not that much. It’s the offseason. All of my big races are done. It’s time for a break, both mentally and physically.
Building in a relaxed or completely training-free period to break up long blocks of structured work is essential. What could go wrong if you don’t take a break? On the physical side, overtraining or injury. On the mental side: stress, irritability, and burnout.
One book that has unexpectedly stuck with me this year is Shonda Rhimes’ memoir Year of Yes. I’m fairly certain I’m not the target audience. I’m not a woman. I’m not black. I’m not a mother. I’ve never even seen a minute of her shows. But I am a bit introverted and increasingly my default position for a great night is reading a book on the couch. Maybe I’d let the dog in the room with me. And a bottle of wine.
So when Michelle suggested, not just adding a side trip to DC, but also to NYC during our drive to see family over Thanksgiving, my knee jerk reaction was a hardy hell no. Nothing could be further from my comfy couch than Midtown Manhattan during Thanksgiving week. It all sounded like a recipe for a stress and anxiety milkshake.
Deep breath. Say yes. Let’s do this….