DEEP WORK- Incorporate planned stretches of time that are free from distraction, internet, email, social media, texting, and all networking tools. Deep work requires organized hours that are devoted to your truest work, and this precious time is not littered with the mundane tasks that keep your head and your heart in the various obligatory checklists of the day. In addition ~ do yourself a giant favor and read “Deep Work” by Cal Newport. It’s all about training yourself to do this deep work, despite the planet’s pull on you currently to stay in the shallow end of multi-tasking. This book is revolutionizing my perspective on how I work and why, and my productivity is bursting through the ceiling.
TIRES AND BEDS- My Dad always told me to spend money on good tires and quality mattresses. Many miles of sleeping and driving will be supported by these upgrades, and I have found this advice to be true gold, even when I am low on cash. If you are in the market for either of these things, go for the best you can get. You won’t be sorry.
PANCAKES- My new favorite pancakes have exactly 2 ingredients. To make the batter, put 1 banana per every 2 eggs into a blender and blend. Pour into pan and cook and flip until golden. That’s it. Grain free and delicious, and plenty sweet enough from the banana to serve without syrup. Kids and adults love them, and they make you feel like you are eating bread-y pancakes but you are not! They are so easy and our family’s new favorite!
MEDITATION- One of my favorite meditations is below. I have used it for years, and it is so simple and incredible special. (I don’t know who originally wrote it, but I am not the author)
Sit comfortably and tall, with an easy breath and your eyes closed. After a couple of minutes of quiet centering, imagine you are speaking the following words to yourself, as if you could look into you own eyes.
May you be happy
May you be healthy in body and in mind
May you be safe from inner and outer harm
May you be free from the fears that keep you stuck
(Repeat: imagining you are saying the words to someone you love dearly, then someone who is an acquaintance, then someone who is hard to love or who betrayed you, and finally for all living beings)
NEW PAJAMAS- I threw away my threadbare pj’s yesterday, and replaced them with soft, bamboo, aqua ones that match. I am sure I slept better, and have wondered why I waited so long to upgrade my nightly ritual with this. It is equally as good as brand new socks, which many people know is my obsession. Do this immediately, and make sure you count texture as the most important.
WALK- everywhere you can this fall. What a sparkly season! I am trying to walk outside for at least 20 minutes daily, and much more if it’s possible. Don’t miss the leaves!
TIMELINE- As a contemplative exercise, draw a timeline of your life from start to now, highlighting the things that feel the most relevant. Notice the dips, the darkness, and the places that are flooded with light. Take stock, practice gratitude as you look things over, and move forward from now with more attention and insight.
WOODSHEDDING- My husband told me about woodshedding, and I just love love love the concept. It’s when you leave your obligations temporarily and go “out back” to make art, writing, music, or whatever passion work has been tugging at you to finish or begin. It’s a serious deep dive, and can happen over a weekend or an entire sabbatical or period of time. Most importantly, it has to be a conscious period of time to focus or binge on that said passion, leaving all the to-do lists behind for that concentrated period of time. Matt is woodshedding with his song writing partner in a cabin in the woods in October, and that kind of concentrated time is glorious and in the category of “deep work” (mentioned in the first part of the post). If you have the luxury, all of you artists, carve out out this time for yourself. It is everything it’s cracked up to be.
***Things That Will Help backstory:
More than a decade ago, my big brother, Benjamin, died from a drug overdose after struggling for years to survive the stranglehold of addiction. My mom and I found a small, spiral notebook next to Benjamin’s bed with the handwritten title Things That Will Help. Inspired by his, I have been writing my own list all these years. I decided recently to begin publishing them.
This practice has always been an homage to him—something that has gotten me through the hardest things in my life and has now blossomed into life medicine that I hope to keep sharing.