This year, I chose “nourish” as my One Little Word. Like last year’s word, “breathe,” it feels a little bit out of character for me. I’m an excellent planner and project manager. I’m hyper-organized. I’m on top of everything. I am not a particularly warm and fuzzy person. You can tell when I’m starting to fall apart when I lose details, as when we were preparing to leave the States for this your in late November.
I’m very outcome focused. It’s not hard for me to tackle a big project and break it down into small achievable steps. SMART goals? Not a problem. I do, however, tend to get lost in the planning and the achieving and the getting things done aspect of Being Theresa Carpenter Sondjo. I’m very proud of how good I am at my job, but I’m less proud of the sacrifices my family and my soul have to make in order to sustain my type-A personality, not just in the Foreign Service, but at home at before I joined State as well.
I can be a difficult person to live with.
Part of that, is nourishing the relationships that I love. Part of that is nourishing my body (developing a consistent workout habit was the best thing I did for myself in 2014). Part of that is nourishing the hobbies that I love: writing, paper crafts, cooking, running (!!).
You know what doesn’t nourish anything at all? Hanging out in the living room, iPhone in hand, browsing Facebook. Endless, mindless consumption, particularly in terms of my paper crafting hobby, but also in our home. Stuff. Neverending piles of junk we ship around the world because we can’t bear to admit that we have purchased paid for accumulated consumer goods that we don’t need.
I found this article by Caylee Grey (expat and fellow lover of paper) to be excellent food for thought as I reflect on how I can best nourish my relationships in the coming year. She lists 70 days to produce more than we consume. Some of the highlights for me:
Throw away fears of making embarrassing things. Make them anyway. My theory, that I keep repeating, is that we have a certain number of things that we make that will be rubbish. Best to get them over and done with as soon as possible so that you can move onto the great things.
I dislike intensely being not-good at anything. I don’t like being bad at CrossFit. I don’t like creating stuff that I’m not proud of. I don’t even like scrapping mediocre photos, even when they tell a great story. If it doesn’t look good, I don’t want to waste hours on the process of creation. That’s pretty dumb. I need to focus more on the process, and less on the final product.
You don’t not have supplies. If you have a pen and paper you have supplies. If I can have supplies in a third world African country, you can have supplies.
So true! If I could create in Freetown, there’s no excuse for me not to do so in Jerusalem. It’s very easy for me to use shopping for creative supplies or blog themes or kitchen goods as a substitute for actually sitting down and creating. Especially in a developed city like Jerusalem, I need to glue my ass to a chair and just MAKE STUFF.
Record your creative time and hone it. Just like you would if you were embarking on a new exercising program, keep track in a notebook, or with Lift.
This is a new idea to me, and I think one that will be very useful. How much time am I spending doing the things I love, vs. how much time am I wasting futzing about online?
Go read the whole list. It’s really good.
I’m not explicitly focusing on minimalism this year, but I’m interested to hear how other folks are limiting their consumption and focusing on the things that are important to them this year. How are you doing it? Do you have any suggestions?