Recent life hacks

Rituals are really helpful in order to express love. We love our children and our spouse and our family, but often we just think expressions of love will happen naturally and spontaneously. They don’t. We have to plan it a bit.

Love means that we always kiss each other good night. Or that we tuck kids into bed and sing them a song. Or we call our moms every Wednesday. Or that we make take time to wrestle every day at 4:00. Or we cuddle every evening. Or we end conversations with, “I love you.”

Everyone wants something dependable and safe, and creating rituals of love can be so helpful in feeling more loved and showing that love more often.

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Two days ago, I watched a video on YouTube by Jordan Page about a block schedule productivity system. I’m always looking for better ways to manage my life, and this one wasn’t entirely unique, but yet it was just what I needed at the time.

She basically separates her days into a few large blocks, with a timer on the phone to tell her when it’s the next block. I really liked it because instead of using lots of small blocks of time, it was a few big blocks of time, generally categorized but flexible and not too specific. And it was pretty much what I was already doing, but just a slight improvement on it.

For me, I came up with the following blocks:

  • Morning (6-9). Wake-up, scriptures, prayers, mental health, exercise, family scripture study, breakfast, showers, kids ready, cleaning, home projects.
  • Learning (9-12). Homeschool and playing with kids.
  • Lunch (12-1). Lunch and clean up.
  • Projects (1-3). The kids watch movies or play. I work on school, blogging, and other projects.
  • Family/errands (3-5). Time to play outside, go and do things, etc.
  • Dinner (5-7). Dinner, clean up, and whatever.
  • Bed time (7-8). Tubs, stories, bed.
  • Evening (8-10). I catch up on projects and spend time with my husband.
  • Sleep (10-6).

It’s pretty easy. What was super helpful to me was I organizing my to-do list by block. It sort of just made things fall into place more. Instead of thinking what I needed to get done, I was planning on when I was doing it and then not worrying quite as much.

 

Pain can be good

In the city finals course during an episode of American Ninja Warriors last year, Jessie Graff was trying to finish the course but was exhausted and didn’t have the strength to finish. She fell, knowing she had reached her limit. But throughout it all, she was smiling. When asked about it during the interview after the run, she said that she was smiling because she knew she was getting stronger.

I have remembered that for a while. I tend to avoid pain–a lot of us do. But lots of good things in life cause us pain, whether it’s the physical pain of exercise, the anxiety of talking to new people, or the frustration of trying a new skill. Often, the things we value cause us a a lot of pain too: I value my children and love them a lot, so when they are crying or struggling, it makes me hurt too because I want them to be happy.

There are two lessons in all of this:

  1. Often, we have pain because we are doing something difficult. And since we aren’t as strong as we want to be, it hurts. But if we persist and hang in there, we will become stronger. Pain can be good because it means we are stretching ourselves to do better. Instead of getting frustrated and just always doing what we are already good at, it’s better to push ourselves–it will hurt, but it’s worth it.
  2. The things that we value can cause us a lot of pain because we value them so much. This pain can cause us to do a lot of stupid stuff when we try to avoid it–like getting angry at our children when they are crying. We really want them to be happy–that’s why their crying is bothering us in the first place. But when we misinterpret our pain and forget what we actually value, we end up hurting the things that we love the most. A better way is knowing that the pain is okay and that avoiding the pain isn’t the answer–remembering what we love and value is.

Avoiding pain can be incredibly damaging. Now, sometimes we have pain that tells us we need to change our actions–like when we are injured, or we feel guilt. But it’s not like good choices lead to comfort and bad choices lead to pain. Sometimes, really good choices result in a lot of pain. But they are still good choices. The easy choice can often be a very negative thing.

We should remember what we value and push ourselves to become better and better at living those values. While that can be painful, it can also bring us a great amount of joy.

The joy of a simple life

I am currently reading a self-help book that drives down the same, worn-out path of trying to convince the reader that they can accomplish a lot because the author has accomplished a lot. If the reader follows the path of the author by doing specific things, then the reader will also be successful. And usually success is defined in a specific way, such as wealth, career accomplishment, and general productivity and happiness.

This is a false narrative.

We all live different lives. Some of us won’t ever be successful in certain ways–we have struggles, and sometimes those struggles never go away. You may not make much money. You may struggle to spend your time wisely. You might struggle with mental health, making daily happiness seem impossible. You might fail in career goals. Your family might fall apart in a way that can’t be put back together again.

It’s a lie that we can all achieve a certain kind of success.

But that’s okay. Because you don’t need that sort of success in your life anyway.

We are given are specific circumstances. We do the best we can, and we make mistakes. But we keep trying. And while we do want to be the best we can be, that may mean that we live a simple, unnoticed live, filled with problems.

My Grandma Jane lived a simple life. She was an incredibly talented woman in many different ways: computers, crocheting, sewing, bookkeeping, genealogy, and more. But she dealt with a huge amount of challenges in her life–health problems, infertility, financial struggles, family difficulties, and trying to overcome her own weaknesses.

I love my Grandma Jane very much and she means a lot to me. She helped others in small and simple ways, and that was enough.

Sometimes we get so caught up in being successful in the certain ways we want that we forget that the small and simple things we do are so much more important.

I don’t want to live in a big house and have lots of money. I don’t want to get the best grades or a high-profile job. I don’t need to start a successful business or publish books or whatever.

Because my life doesn’t have to be successful in those ways at all. I want to love and serve in small and simple ways. I want to keep trying even if life become difficult. I don’t need to be noticed, because I am already loved.