Cutting Out the Fat
In working up the commitment to regularly write through a blog, over a year ago, I had to get real about how I spent my time and distill further what was the most essential in my day to day schedule. Finding that time was harder then I thought. “I’m a stay at home mom for crying out loud!” I thought to myself, “Where the heck is my time going?!”.
Digging deeper though I was surprised to find fifteen minutes to an hour here and there that were in fact non-essentials and I was able to get my schedule tighter.
This process taught me something.
We value what we build our life around in time and energy regardless of what we say and think.
For something to be in our lives it’s because we are sustaining it and giving it what it needs to exist. It goes from the smallest detail like the plant on your work desk to the biggest choices like who you marry.
Everything Has a Care Tag Attached To It
You know those tags on our clothes that lets us know if that jacket needs to be dry cleaned or it’s fine in the washer in “cold water/ tumble dry low”? Well everything on the face of the earth has one.
Always Something For Something
Plants, pets, furniture, cars, jobs, peak health, happy children, businesses, intimate and fulfilling friendships and marriages, a beautiful home… they all have specific things that need to be done in exchange of having them. Consequently they all require specific things that need to be turned down as well.
If your bank account needs a minimum of $1,000 to stay open, once you get in the $1,500 range you say no to tempting purchases that nudge that minimum balance into heavy fines and penalties. Happy children at the minimum need loving attention so that can show up as a scheduled time where you have said no to whatever distracts you from spending quality time with them in the way they best receive it. Great friendships need you to stay in touch regularly and be real etc.
This is True Even of The Unconscious Things
I remember when I’d fill my closet with clothes I found great deals on. Not necessarily clothes that was flattering on me or even fit me well, just clothes that looked cute on the clothes rack. I was the perfect retail consumer, completely sold on the hype of not wanting to miss out on “the deal” regardless of it being right for me or not.
Consumed in The “Managing Of”
I hadn’t put too much thought up until then on what actually flattered me and felt good to wear. I paid with money and time for that clothes to be in my life. It took time to wash, dry, fold or dry clean. It took time to “organize it” in with all the other closet clutter. Looking back it also took up an incredulous amount of bathroom-mirror-time spent in angst trying to make it look good on me as it did on the sale rack. Not to mention all the times I begrudgingly said no to time with loved ones because I “Really had to clean up my place”.
Wasted Time on the Non-Valuable
All that time GONE.
It could’ve been spent finding what actually suited me and making memories with those that mattered most. I was in effect saying “No” to those things in choosing to further manage that clothes no matter how much I complained to those who knew me of my closet clutter and my “Not ever being able to find anything to wear!”.
Non-essentials Holding You Back?
How many “bad” jobs have kept you back from finding a better one because you were too busy and exhausted? How many relationships have you maintained that kept you so engrossed in drama and negativity that they left little space for anything else? Your mouth may be complaining to friends about how fed up you are with that job or friend, but bottom line…you keep giving what those things need and they REMAIN.
This is the value of getting clear on what we value. Where our time goes reflects what we value, regardless of what we tell ourselves or others.
Asking ourselves what we in our hearts of hearts want to value and really listening to the answer makes it much easier to decide what we can consciously say yes and no to as we navigate our lives, much like a compass.
I shared in my last post how integrating meditative practices into my life neutralized the conflicting polarities within me rather organically, without having to analyze the heck out of them. I became naturally more intentional in many aspects of my life. This is valuable especially for an expert in “efforting” like myself. I work at things even when it’s obvious to others it’s unnecessary.
Write To Cut Out the Fluff
Nonetheless this little exercise I’m about to share was very helpful for me in clarifying more intensely what I value. Writing has a way like no other of making things crisp and defined in the mind.
Not to mention that extensive research has proven its holistic benefits for mind and body. Here is a great post by James Clear on how writing about our values helps us mentally and biologically deal with stress.
Values entered my vocabulary when I learned about integrity, but it was my favorite blogger James Clear, that helped me to look at what it meant to me personally through a writing exercise. This exercise added a level of clarity and specificity around my values that I found helpful and you may too.
A Lil’ Writing Practice
In this post James wrote a list of common personal values and suggested reading through and selecting a core list of 5 values that stand out to you. It shouldn’t take too much time and it’s important to not overthink it but just go with the ones that immediately catch your eye. The words that stand out to you are markers of what you value most.
Beauty In the Details
In doing this exercise the word beauty stood out to me. I realized I wanted beauty in what I created, the way I interact with those around me, in person and online, how I showed up in my relationships, how I mothered my son and even how I earned money.
Saying Yes, Saying No
New streams of thoughts came that clarified what kinds of activities, objects, clothes, relationships, literature and food I would be saying yes to and no to from that point forward.
A funny thing happened when I set out to intentionally make more beauty in little ways. The word would crop up in my mind at the most mundane of moments like in my reaching for a plate to serve myself breakfast with. The thought “Could this plate be more beautiful?” followed by “should I replace the whole set?” and then “could my whole kitchen use a makeover?”
As thoughts stirred about the true value of beauty I realized I live on a budget and prize traveling to see family that live out of the country as well as attending bi annual retreats filled with service, meditation, yoga and plenty of quality time between my husband, I and our son.
Peeling the Beautiful Onion
That to me is truly beautiful and deserves the continued management in time and money to exist in our lives. So will I fund a complete makeover to my kitchen? No. Will I do simple touch ups that are inexpensive but make a big enough enjoyable difference in how it feels to be in my kitchen? Yes.
Trading Clean Floors for My Baby’s Happy Place
Another example is that I relish the red toned wooden floors in my home after having mopped them. It usually doesn’t last long though since there are a kids running over it, spilling glue, glitter, paint, cookie crumbs, chips and stickers onto it regularly. It inwardly bothered me that the shine would be gone so fast once they came.
When beauty came up in one of these moments I realized the buzz in the air from happy kids creating things was as beautiful as it was temporary. My son wasn’t always going to be 5 and spending this kind of time with his friends in our home. It became clear to say yes to the beauty of those moments and no to keeping the aesthetic value of spotlessly shining floors by letting it go.
Habit of Auditing
This kind of internal audit has continued as a backdrop to my days. It changed the way I approach whatever I’m doing because it comes up like a mantra on it’s own as a reminder to bring beauty into the moment.
The same can hold true for you. Give it a try and let me know what comes up for you.
What do you truly value? What actions hold that up? I’d love to know.
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