One of the challenges last week was to come up with a Valentine's Day tradition that values substance over fluff. I decided to do a different take on a card, and make something difficult to lose in a pile of junk mail. I cut small circles out of cardstock (I had orange on hand), and wrote some reasons why I love my sweetie pies.
The messages are simple, but heartfelt. I stuck them on the back of the powder room door, where I thought they wouldn't be missed. Funny thing, though, hubby hasn't noticed them yet. But the kiddo did! When I read the messages to her aloud, the smile on her face was priceless. Happy Valentine's Day everyone.
I'm a Southerner, and "bless your heart" is my all-time favorite insult, hands down. There are some other doozies as well, like "oh, honey," "how nice for you," and "thanks for sharing." I saw on some blog once that a non-native speaker was really confused about how those those types of phrases could be insults. On paper, well, them seem so nice. Southerners know what makes these insults has to do with one's demeanor, and how a drawl can add just the right inflection to turn sugar into vinegar.
I draw your attention to Southernism insults as a counterpoint to the kind of filth that surfaces on internet comment feeds. Consider the comment feed explosion that followed a recipe for this super cute tie-dyed rainbow cake. It all started with a simple question about how long one should freeze the batter, and quickly snowballed into snark, profanity, and ill-conceived political sparring.
I wonder about the people who post such comments. I doubt they are all nasty people. They probably have friends, and family members who love them. They may even have been sitting at work, answering the phone saying, "Good morning. How can I help you?" while simultaneously engaging in conversations like this this super tame example from the rainbow cake comment apocalypse:
I thought about making the title of this post Confessions of a Recovering Messy, but I'm not sure that I'm really on a path to zen cleanliness. No judgment, but that's just not my status quo. It's not that I'm a slob, mind you, but my actions are often governed by inertia. Because creating order hasn't been a priority, when I open a package I leave the wrapper on the table (hence the need for this week's good dirt challenge of buying stuff with less packaging). I kick off my shoes in the middle of the living room instead of putting them on the shoe rack by the door. I pile bags at the bottom of the stairs, but never take them up. These little bad habits can quickly add up to a big clutter-ful mess.
I hate it.
I am one of those people who are strongly affected by disarray. Tripping on some wayward object can keep me metaphorically stumbling through the next few hours. Articles about the negative effects of clutter often include people describing how messy surroundings make them feel: exhausting, draining, suffocating, overwhelming.... I am one of those people. I know this about myself, and yet I. still. make. messes. The fact that I do so lessens my potential - my potential for a relaxing evening with my family; my potential to enjoy an impromptu visit from a family member or friend; my potential to actually finish a DIY project; my potential to start my day feeling calm and unhurried. You get the idea.
Sure, there are times that call for making a big ol' mess. A pillow fort during playtime with the kiddo, a kitchen full of detritus from baking an elaborate birthday cake, a towering pile of photo albums while making a family scrapbook. Fantastic messes. But great messes shouldn't still be there tomorrow, or next week, or... ahem, in a month or more. Even a fantastic mess past its point of utility can become a nightmare.
This week's good living challenge is to declutter something. Anything. I'm not encouraging you to become an overnight minimalist, but rather to pick what ails you and clean it up. Or, maybe you will choose to focus on a behavior instead, like pledging to actually throw away your trash for an entire day (I'm looking at you M&M wrapper, gas station receipt, junk mail!). My hope is that you will feel less stressed, breathe a little easier and see the good that comes from creating space.
It's good to let things go sometimes.
This isn't a religious blog, but at the end of the day, goodness and faith are somewhat inextricably linked. As I say on my bio page, I'm an Episcopal by choice and the following prayer is one of my favorite parts of the liturgy. While it's not actually true that I say a little prayer for you before I put on my makeup, maybe it's not such a bad idea (thanks for the inspiration, Dionne Warwick).
Hey Joe - how's it going?
It's Hump Day, and I'm three for three in making the bed this week. Even this morning, when the wee one yelled "Moooooooooooommy" every other word, and seemed incapable of understanding that time is finite, I made the bed presentable. I have grand plans to actually finish decorating the space by the end of the weekend so that I can reveal to you a beautiful haven of rest, but we'll see about that.
As for the rest of the challenges... my success thus far has been "meh" at best. Instead of reframing the news, I'm still just ignoring it. I haven't yet tackled any "thank you" notes (although I'm certainly using thank you notes every day... as a mouse pad.)
So, given my stumbles so far, is this week's challenge a good boom or a bad bust? It's GOOD, of course! Why? Because I'm making an effort to move in a good direction. And efforts to propel oneself toward something better than the status quo are always worth doing.
Tonight I'm going to write some thank you notes. To get in the mood, I did a some Pinterest wandering about what comprises a great note. When it comes down to it, the anatomy of a thank you note is pretty simple. I made a pinnable graphic to help us all keep the basics in mind. Tune in tomorrow for a gratitude update!
One of the challenges I plan to tackle this week is making my bed. You may wonder what that has to do with being good.... The research on this one is pretty interesting.
In The Power of Habit, author Charles Duhigg argues that making your bed every morning is correlated with more productivity and being able to better stick to a budget.
If you make your bed, you're more likely to sleep better, and be more effective in chasing away the grouchy zombies (they're real, trust me).
And happiness guru Gretchen Rubin, as well as others, all claim that making your bed will make you happier.
Of course, a big part of my mission here at G&GCo. is keeping it real. I'm journeying for goodness. It's not a destination - it's a process. We're all at different places, and mine just happens to be tumbling out of a messy bed every morning.
So in the spirit of full disclosure, here's the before pic of my bed.
Let's dissect it.
Next week marks the first Good & Gracious Co. weekly challenge! These will be compiled into a FREE downloadable document later in the year so that the good can keep marching on. But in the meantime, let's review what week 1 will entail.
I will try to...
Here's a little inspiration to help get you on the road to gratitude!
Starting January 26th, the Good & Gracious Co. site will feature weekly challenges in all 6 of the core categories of goodness: good dirt, good living, good behavior, good news, good times, and do-goodery. The point of the challenges is to incorporate intentional acts of goodness into our week. Will we fail? Maybe. Six challenges a week is ambitious. But the beauty of goodness is that as long as we try even a little, we succeed. So what if we only manage to make headway for a couple of days, and then in only 2 categories?!? When all is said and done, the world still nets more goodness. Imagine the wake of a boat, or ripples from a rock thrown in a pond - the effects keep going even after the initiating act ceases. And if a whole bunch of us focus on good, then... WOWZERS! We will collectively pat each other on the back and go to sleep feeling better about the world.
Join me on January 26th and let's start something GOOD!