I’m a master multi-tasker. I can do five things at once. Maybe I should have been in the circus.
I can bake bread, while making tea, while talking to my best friend in Idaho, while sweeping up the detritus that gathers along the edges between the counter and the wall, while watching for the chickens to start digging in the mulch so that I can throw rocks at them to chase them away.
And while I’m doing this, I’m listening for the buzzer on the dryer so that I can run up and set it for ten more minutes because it’s never done entirely. On my way back to the kitchen, I will shoo the dog off the couch and snatch the brown leaves off the houseplant next to the couch.
My mind works like this – always looking for a task that can be accomplished enroute to or during another task. Get more done. Get more done. Get more done. Don’t waste time. These are the thoughts that torment my days.
This makes me uber efficient.
But it also makes me mindless.
One of the daily challenges that came in my e-mail from Kindspring this week, said – practice single-tasking today.
My initial reaction was – why? Aren’t we supposed to multi-task? I’m a mom, that’s what we do.
But the more I thought about it that day, the more I liked the idea.
I tried that day to do one thing at a time.
I did not pick up the phone to call Lou in Idaho when I pulled out the basket of clothes to fold. Instead, I folded clothes. I thought about my children as I did this, so maybe I wasn’t entirely single-tasking, but I’ve never been good at shutting off my mind.
When I let the dog in, I stopped to scratch her behind her ears and look into her liquid eyes. She seemed startled by my single-minded attention, and followed me around the rest of the day looking for it.
For breakfast this morning, I made waffles for the kids. They were happy (even though snow hadn't canceled school like everyone predicted). For once, I left all the mornings tasks lie, and poured over a new recipe. The waffles were divine. I did the dishes later, after the kids had left for school.
This week’s challenge is blatantly stolen from Kindspring – Try single-tasking. Focus on the task at hand and be present in the moment. Make laundry, cleaning, driving, listening - sacred.
I’d love to hear how it plays out for you. Send me a message through the website or leave a comment here to inspire all of us.
I just spent a weekend with a hundred other women creating scrapbooks. I know, sounds like big fun. Actually, it was. You can see all the antics if you check out my Twitter feed (@CaraAchterberg). I live tweeted the entire event.
Every year when I attend this event, I wonder why I spend all these hours creating scrapbooks. What will it matter?
The books are big and bulky and groaning with my efforts. When I am in a nursing home someday, it will require two nurses to carry them to my bed so that I can look at them.
I don’t know what will happen to these books after I am gone, but I can’t worry about that. All I know is that when I think about what I will do if my house catches fire (I do think about this and so does every other mom when she is going through her worry-schtick), I think – the only thing (other than the kids, the hubby, the cats, and maybe the annoying little dog) that I have to get out of the house is my scrapbooks.
So they must matter.
Not every picture I take makes it into the scrapbooks. There are plenty of crummy pictures clogging up my hard drive. Yours, too, I’m sure.
I’ve made a decision.
There is no reason to hang on to bad pictures - out of focus, too dark, eyes closed, embarrassing, and especially the ones that make me look fat. I’m deleting them.
This is a big task, but I’ll feel better, lighter, when I know those images are gone. (But are they gone? I still don’t understand how you remove something from a computer without physically removing it. Where does it go?)
So this is my Live Intentionally Challenge for you this week – clean out the pictures on your hard drive and delete all the bad pictures.
Get rid of the fuzzy ones, the ones that make you feel bad about yourself, the ones that would embarrass someone. There is no reason to hold on to these images. Delete. Delete. Delete.
I love a good challenge. I’m never going to hike Mt. Everest or run an Ultra-Marathon, but something that pushes me a tiny bit or even a bigger bit outside my comfort zone gets me going. I like to test myself. I was always a good student. I wasn’t the smartest or the most talented, but I knew how to study, to work, I was an excellent try-er. I’d give it my best. I’m sure my parents had something to do with that quality since I don’t remember ever making a conscious decision to be a good student. It’s just who I was.
Once you’re a grown up, there aren’t any more quizzes or tests to take – at least not the kind that come with a grade or at least a pass/fail option. Sometimes it’s not easy to know how well you’re doing. There are plenty of days when I wish my life came with a syllabus. I would love to know what I’m supposed to do next. Figuring it out on my own seemed exciting in the beginning. I can see the sheen in my own kids’ eyes when they talk about their plans for the future. But now that I’m living that future, I do wish the next steps could be clearer and the risks didn’t seem so big.
So challenging myself in little ways, lets me test whether I’m still growing, learning, getting better. I’ve shared some of those challenges on my blog – the Try 100 New
Recipes challenge, the Buy Local challenge, the Don It or Donate It challenge. So this year I was trying to imagine a new challenge for myself and coming up blank. And then – lucky me – one landed in my in box. I’ve subscribed to Kindspring.org for several years. They send e-mails with inspiring quotes, good news, and stories of amazing people who are helping the world. Last week’s e-mail introduced the 21 day Simple Living Challenge. Signing up meant they would send me a new challenge EVERY DAY! My kind of people! I’m three days in to this challenge and so far I’m rocking it. Todays challenge is to clean out my e-mail inbox. Whoa. Sounds simple, but tangling with that mess will most likely drive me to distraction all day. You know what? I’m up for it!
Am I up for 18 more days of this? We’ll find out. Do I even know what it entails? Nope! That’s not the point. The point is that we all need to keep challenging ourselves to be better. We are never finished growing up. What kind of challenge can you take on?
This week’s Live Intentionally Challenge: Take on a Challenge! Feel free to jump on board with Kindspring’s challenge, take me up on my weekly challenges on this blog, adopt a challenge from my book, or design one of your own.
Sunshine is important. And I’m not just talking about growing flowers or tomatoes, but sunshine is important for your health.
This is because sunshine is our primary source of Vitamin D.
Vitamin D facts:
So this week’s challenge for an Intentional Life is to get outside. Yes, I’m aware that is it winter. And yes, I hate COLD, too. And yes, I heard the forecast that (at least in the mid-atlantic region) there’s going to be lows in the single digits this week. All of that said – you (and I) can handle 10 minutes outside. It won’t kill us. Just be sure some part of you is uncovered so you can absorb that sunshine.
And what if the sun don’t shine? (I’m remembering a tune with these words…) Well, if there isn’t sunlight to be had, the next best thing is to take a dose of Vitamin D. I bought mine at the vitamin aisle at the grocery store. It came in a liquid form. One tiny, tasteless drop in my tea on every gray morning is my plan. I take 2000IU, but it also comes in lower dosages. Read this if you want details on how much you need.
It’s time to make daily sunshine a part of your intentionally healthy life. I’ve often wondered if I have SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) because gray days drag me down, but my more educated self thinks it’s not the winter, it’s the lack of vitamin D. This year I’m making an intentional effort to combat SAD with vitamin D and sunshine. Maybe you should join me.
Challenge: Spend 5-10 minutes (at least) outside in the sunshine every day and if the sun isn’t available to you make daily doses of Vitamin D a habit.
What is living intentionally?
Remember when you were a kid and you broke something or took something that wasn’t yours or said something you shouldn’t have said? When your mother pinned you down on it, your knee-jerk reply was, “I didn’t mean to do it!”
If you want to learn more about living intentionally, you can buy my book by the same title. It's full of challanges, in fact, I counted them and there are 270 challenges in all! Click here to get your own copy!