On my way in to work this morning, I was struck by two things…
1. It was a beautiful morning. It’s snowing. We have about 5-6 inches on the ground. But it’s not cold. It’s not super-windy (yet… I think that comes later…). And you know what? It’s February. In Wisconsin. it’s supposed to snow. And it was beautiful and quiet and peaceful.
2. I am so, so grateful for the random people who do their jobs so that I can get to mine. No, I probably didn’t HAVE to be in the office today. I could have rescheduled my meeting. I didn’t have to be here to get work done. But I wanted to meet with my student. I wanted to see her face when we talk about her next steps and how I hope I can help her achieve them. I wanted to see my coworkers (this, for me, is a big big step!). And I’m so grateful… to the bus driver. The guy who always, always, has the longest stretch of sidewalk that I have to walk on to get to the bus stop cleared. The people who clear the paths here at the University. The people who cleaned the building last night (and, thank you, emptied my recycling bin, which was embarrassingly full…). They do their jobs, and then I can come do mine, and work with my student. I don’t know the name of the bus driver – although it’s a goal, since I see him every day! I don’t know the name of the random snowblower dude. I don’t know who they are – but I am so grateful to them.
So that’s how I’m starting my day. And you know what? there is something beautiful in every day. I need to seek that out – to shift my mindset from “I have to” to “I get to”. I know about 10 years behind the trends here on gratitude and thankfulness, but.. it makes such a difference to come in to work with a smile and a mental “thanks” to all who helped me get here.
Now time to get that work started…
It’s February, so the “fix your life” posts and articles and goals and resolutions have really slowed down, but it’s still something that’s been in my ever-spinning mind. It occurred to me yesterday that we have really complicated the whole idea of simplicity.
We don’t ask whether something is useful, if we love it, or if it works for us…we have to ask if it “sparks joy”.
We can’t rely on simple to-do lists and calendars, but instead must develop complicated integrated systems of online calendars, large (and expensive) planners, and then apply them in all areas of our lives.
I’ve been seeking, as it is my word for the year. And this weekend, I realized that there are a few things I’m truly seeking:
- Becoming more vulnerable
And simplicity was really front-of-mind this weekend. We all get caught up in the consumer-driven culture, but I am truly trying to buy less. And if I do buy something, then something leaves.
I’m trying to read my bookshelves.
I’m simplifying the recipes I have saved – and the ones I use.
I am trying to simplify my work life, but I think that’s a losing battle. There are constantly competing threads of research, scholarship, service, and they all need attention and care. And I have goals, too, that I need to achieve in each.
So I am focusing on simplifying my personal life. In many ways, I already have. But I’m starting to realize that many of the things I have done in the last year – donating clothing, realizing what I feel comfortable wearing (and it’s not, despite my mother’s insistence, what SHE thinks is best for me to wear!), and so on, have been a way of simplifying my life. My meals are boring many times, but they are simple, don’t take a lot of time to prepare, and are made up of nourishing foods I like.
So yes, life really is simple. It can always be more so… but I’m getting there. I’m trying not to over-complicate my approach to simplifying, though. I don’t need that. 🙂
This applies to my relationships, and my overthinking in general, as well, but today I just wanted to write about life simplifying in general…maybe something deeper tomorrow.
I had a meeting yesterday where talk eventually turned to the story of the woman on a plane recently, who was seated between two (in her judgement) large people. And she was not happy. She ranted, raved, called them names, and was just downright nasty. To the point where she was eventually removed from the plane and put on another flight.
The two people with whom I was meeting are larger people than me, and this really touched a nerve with them. I had no idea the judgment that people face because of their size. I sometimes do, because I’m smaller than many people. But they apparently have been criticized, shamed, and ridiculed because of their size.
And that’s not right.
What brings people to the point where they feel compelled to be mean to others?
It takes just as much energy – heck, probably less energy – to be kind. I have no idea what you are going through. I have no idea what your life is like. Why on earth should it matter to me what size you are, or what you’re eating, or what you’re doing? As long as it doesn’t affect me or my loved ones (for example, I draw the line at driving while impaired…) it’s your life. Live it!
So why can’t we live and let live? If I want to live my life without judgment, then it seems reasonable to think that I should not judge others. We’re all humans. We’re all presumably trying hard. why not assume the best, rather than the worst?
I felt terrible for these 2 colleagues. To face that vitriol – apparently, multiple times for each of them? – must be so demeaning. I can only hope that the lessons from Mr. Rogers are learned by all…