There is so much truth in that statement. It’s easy to find happiness in the special moments. The daily grind is where there is a challenge. This was and continues to be a truth for the time we are in. Many have found happiness in the less exciting aspects of life. A simple walk around the neighborhood is a treat. Camping, hiking, and kayaking are our preferred activities. Not just for us it seems, outdoor equipment sales soared by mid-year 2020. Bike sales grew by +63%. Paddlesports, much the relief of suppliers and manufacturers who had been facing declines, grew +56%. Golf was up +51%, and camping +31%. Judging by the difficulty of getting a campsite, I think this number is probably a good bit low. Back in October we scheduled all of our 2021 campsites and have already started looking at 2022. CRAZINESS! (source)
2020 was less than easy. It took real effort to find happiness in common things. I didn’t mind working from home. I certainly didn’t mind social distancing. As an extreme introvert, it was nice to have my preferred life become socially acceptable. The mask was a little tough at first, especially when hot. Over time, no big. It is just another item of clothing. I knew that it was going to require an effort to stay active and not sink into the frustration of the election, Covid-19, and the changes we faced. I need goals and am very task-driven. So I set one and decided to learn how to use my digital camera and shoot in manual mode. I took a specialization through Coursera (which I just finished, yay me!) and took pictures as often as possible. As much as possible I ate lunch with my husband and took walks morning, afternoon, and evening as weather permitted. We adjusted. There were a few scares with the kids being exposed. They are all working outside the home and being as careful as possible. By the end of the year, only one was actually living at home. (Fly little birdies! I’m so proud of you!) Some friends and family were not so lucky and suffered from the virus, and some succumbed to the complications. 2020 was certainly not all rainbows and butterflies. We had to make the best of it, and I’m proud to say we did.
If you have 6 minutes to spare, check out our year in review video linked below.
Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing. Step away. Stop thinking about it. Do something else…or even do nothing.
We walked away from the chaos for the weekend and had an amazing personal reboot while camping at Table Rock State Park in South Carolina. It was a new place for us, and new camping experience as it was our first with a camper. (For the record, I am not so sure tent camping isn’t easier. However, I will say the camper amenities are rather nice to have.)
For some, camping is not a relaxing experience. For us, it works. It’s therapeutic. The outdoor air is refreshing, nature all around, and if you’re in the right spot the views can be amazing. The entire camping experience is about meeting basic needs and enjoying time away. There is no pressing work, professional nor home, to be done. It’s not true to say there are no distractions. There are, but the distractions while camping are different.
In order to have a hot meal, there have to be good coals to cook on. Start a fire. Tend the fire. Assemble the meal. Monitor until cooked. Clean up so no unwanted foragers are attracted to your site while you sleep. Repeat.
It’s basic and it’s freeing. There’s no thought of work. We periodically check in with home to make sure all is well. Otherwise, we take care of our camping needs, hike, and enjoy the great outdoors. There’s a good bit of time spent doing nothing. My favorite time is after dinner, staring at the fire, listening to the sounds of the night, and reading my current book…or just staring at the flames. This camping trip we took two of the dogs for a hike, came back to the campsite, and took an exceptional nap. Why when there was so much nature to see?!?!? Because we could.
We took the time for a personal reboot.
Burnout is real and keeping balance requires a dedicated effort. Sometimes you have to disconnect and walk away. Not only is it OK, but it should also be encouraged.
When this pandemic experience began no one knew what to expect. In my household, we believed work would slow and worried about what that might mean. Instead, the workload increased. We became very busy and had to make a dedicated effort to maintain downtime and connect with each other.
Recharging has to be intentional. Taking the time will actually increase your productivity.
You can’t be innovative if you’re not creative, and you can’t be creative if you’re stressed, exhausted, distracted, or sleep-deprived.
You know that feeling when you see your phone battery reach the point of the blinking red light with 15% or less battery remaining? You know when that happens it is time to plug in and recharge. That small percentage will not last long so you act. Most of us have a sense of urgency about not letting our phones reach that stage. Have that same sense of urgency for yourself.
Resting allows you to achieve your goals and prevent burnout. Take some time to do something you enjoy. Take some time to do nothing. It’s OK.
Sitting on the sun porch enjoying coffee, fresh air, and the sounds of nature. It’s another beautiful day in quarantine. We are staying busy with house projects. My closet has been redone. The second office has been moved to our bedroom so a returning offspring can have her own space. Pictures long ago purchased are now hanging attractively in their perfect spot. New plants are in the ground, old plants have new pots.
It’s important to me that our living space be peaceful, comfortable, and somewhere we don’t mind being for the next six weeks. A clean space is a peaceful space. Clutter heightens stress. The last thing we need right now is more stress. Being the introverts we are, transitioning to the requirements of stay at home has been rather smooth. I feel for my extroverted friends and co-workers. I know it is more difficult for them. There are ways to cope and everyone has to find the path for themselves.
During our pandemic “stay at home” period we are employing a few techniques to get through each day and make the best of it.
Refocus. We are not stuck at home. We are staying at home to stay healthy and keep our family and friends healthy. This is an opportunity to tackle those home projects we’ve been putting off because there is never enough time. New plants are in the back bed. Weeds are disappearing. Bushes and trees are getting trimmed at a more appropriate time of the season. Pictures are hung. All of our “stuff” drawers are organized.
Maintain. The laundry is caught up. There are no dishes in the sink. Dusting is done. Cars are clean with oil changed and everything checked.
Partake of thesun in moderation. Sunlight is good for us. It is refreshing and helps keep us healthy. Vitamin D helps our immune system, the absorption of calcium, and REDUCES DEPRESSION. That last part is really important during this time of uncertainty and increased stress at the changes we have to navigate.
Read. Meditate. Be quiet. RELAX. My favorite spot is sitting on this screened patio listening to the birds. Fresh air. The sounds of nature. Ella curled at my side. Mozart chewing on my toes. OK, maybe not that last part. I do have to prop my feet in order not to have Mr. Chewy attacking my toes. If I have everything picked up he can’t destroy anything and it is still rather relaxing out here. Take the time to be still. Working from home isn’t ideal, nor is staying at home. Don’t feel guilty for being quiet and doing nothing for a few minutes every day. It’s a great recharge.
Go for a walk. As long as we aren’t interacting in close proximity, it’s a great way to get moving and maybe say hi to a neighbor.
Enjoy the pets. We are going to have several very depressed dogs when everyone goes back to work.
Play a game. Put the phone away. Turn off the TV. Play a game. It’s fun, keeps our mind active, and is a great way to interact with the family without device distraction.
Don’tobsess.Keeping aware of the world around us is important. Obsessing over the latest is not healthy.
Use delivery services when possible. There are a couple of ways to look at this and not everyone is going to agree. I can respect that. Our take: We are both able to keep working during the stay at home requirement. Not everyone is so lucky. Using Instacart, Door Dash, and other delivery services help others whose regular jobs are not currently paying them. If you are able to use delivery services, tip well. These wonderful people willing to ease the burden for the rest of us are trying to make a little extra, but they are also putting their health and family at risk.
Establish a routine. It makes life easier and less stressful.
Hang in there. Stay healthy. Stay active.
Live life. Give joy. Be at peace…while social distancing and staying at home.
Cherish your human connections: your relationships with friends and family.- Joseph Brodsky
Each day I check BrainyQuote’s Quote of the Day. Many make me smile, many give me pause for reflection. Today’s Joseph Brodsky quote is our mantra. 2019 has been a challenge for my family and a reminder that time is precious. We have spent this holiday season seeking moments and memories. As we look to 2020, our year is set for many memory-making opportunities. Our goal is to live each day, enjoy our time together, and make time together a priority.
Even though 2000 miles separated us, we were able to gather with all 5 kids for a fun Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. While not the same as being in the same room, I am so thankful for technology.
From our family to yours: Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!
Growing up I heard when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. As an adult, I’ve heard variations on this theme. Let’s be honest though, if life actually gave us lemons we would first take a selfie to post on social media, then search Pinterest for the best uses for lemons. We would then check said social media post for likes and comments, send the post via our favorite messenger app to our significant other- who happens to be sitting on the couch beside us.
Intermittent fasting is a popular eating trend these days. What would our lives be like if we did this digitally?
Food for thought. Spritz with a few lemons and take a look at my latest digital play time using Doodly and Filmora 9.
Happiness is a choice found within. If one cannot be happy with self then happiness cannot be. No one can force you to be happy. Can someone or something make you happy? Only if you allow it. This does not mean that circumstances can’t beat you down. Negativity can work its way in and consume you. However, choosing to focus on the positive is a step to choosing happiness.
As the great Albus Dumbledore said, “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
We love to spend as much time as possible outdoors. It’s a disconnect from the chaos and a chance to see what we see. What I love about hiking and paddling is you are out for the experience, however it may come. Being quiet and going along your way, you never know what you will encounter, or if you will encounter anything more than solitude. It could be a baby deer curled in the grass, a dolphin wondering why you are in his water, or rattle snake hoping you don’t notice he’s there. It is amazing what you will see if you simply keep your eyes open and watch. We spend too much time searching for entertainment, being busy, or distracted. Seeing and experiencing the world around us is a valuable way to disconnect from work and stress.
It’s amazing what you see when you’re not looking for anything. If we stop looking for happiness in all of our distractions, maybe we could find happiness within our self- then our home and the world we live in.
What is work life balance? It doesn’t matter what you do, work can take over if you allow it. For that matter, so can life. Work-life balance requires life management.
Work-life balance defined:
The balance that an individual needs between time allocated for work and other aspects of life.
“The balance that an individual needs.” That statement indicates that it is different for everyone. Stage of life, married or single, children or not will all play into what a person needs regarding balance. Personality, work style, job type, and personal ability are also factors. A little research will provide a plethora of resources for achieving balance and what it actually is. Three things remain consistent.
Work life balance is not equitable time between the two.
Work life balance changes…and sometimes frequently.
Work life balance is not a one size fits all approach.
When work disrupts life or life disrupts work, it is time for reflection and change. Time to evaluate the two and discover management changes necessary.
Think about your work day. What is your scheduled arrival and departure? How much time is spent commuting? How much time is actually spent working? If you just thought “all of it” stop lying to yourself. Did you check your phone? Your personal email? Your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram? Did you chat with a co-worker around the water cooler? No, we aren’t counting that as networking, not for this. Review your day for the things not work related. Now, if you still got the job done was the balance of work and life disrupted? Probably not. Those things external to actual work keep us sane. Taking a the occasional brain break is beneficial. When the job doesn’t get done, there’s imbalance.
When you left work, did you take work home? When at home, did you stop thinking of work? Were you able to do what YOU wanted to do? What if what you wanted to do was work? Does that count as imbalance? Remember, balance is based on personal need and it is different for everyone. If your life outside of work suffers because all you can think about and do is work, life and work need better management.
Establishing your personal balance is essential to success in both areas. It is extremely important to your health, both mental and physical, to find your balance. If you are unable to step away from work and recharge, you will burn out. Stress will consume life. Taking time to relax and detach from work can make you more productive. Increased productivity and efficiency, in turn, leads to less work after hours.
When balanced, work and life have a nice symbiotic relationship. Work provides the necessary resources for life needs and life enjoyment allows you to recharge for work. Let’s not pretend life is always easy and if all is balanced then all is right with the world. Not the case. It’s easy to say work needs to be during work and life takes place when the work day ends. However, it unfortunately doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes the paths will cross and creative management is the only solution.
Balance is just one piece of the puzzle. Sometimes life throws lemons and what you really need is a lime. There are so many ways to helps us achieve balance. Increasingly workplace management is coming on board with creative solutions. More on that another time.
“Well done is better than well said.” Benjamin Franklin.
No truer words. Positive action is better than talking a good game. It is important to back up your words with a job well done. In the teaching years a poster graced my walls stating, “If you don’t have time to do it right, you better have time to do it over.” The lesson: Focus on your work. Get the job done. Pay attention to details.
This is not to say that mistakes will not be made. If mistakes happen, fix it. There probably is an excuse for the mistake or shortcoming. It doesn’t matter. Fix it. Always having an excuse and always having a story doesn’t get the job done. There are things that all of us are good at. Telling others how talented we are, how reliable we are, how ready we are isn’t as beneficial as demonstrating it.
When you no longer care about the quality of your work, it’s time to find different work.