A few things I've been trying

Writing gratitude emails to CM every night
A few weeks ago we realized we were getting very grumpy and complainy, about work, about being apart, about little things that didn't matter. I've been wanting to start some kind of gratitude practice for a while, and recently I read this and was re-inspired. I've seen a lot of people sharing daily lists of what they're grateful for on their blogs, but I wanted the option to write personal or work-related things that I'm not able to share here. I knew, however, that if left to my own devices, I would never write things down on my own. So, I roped CM into joining me, and we've been emailing each other nightly with a list of 3 grateful-making things from the day. I like it. How do you remind yourself of the good things that happen each day?


Taking iPhone photos
I love my beautiful camera, and I love taking pictures, but after this summer's travels I wasn't loving lugging around my big camera bag everywhere I went. Plus, I have hundreds of photos to go through and edit (someday I'll show you the glories of Aix-en-Provence and Brussels, I promise). So I made the angst-filled decision to leave my camera at home when I went to New York this fall. In the interest of not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good, I've been taking lots of pictures anyway, but exclusively with my iPhone. They're not the best photos I've ever taken. Sometimes I miss my camera, like when I'm shooting in low light, or when a wide-angle lens might come in handy (like here). But mostly I'm happy to travel light, to take pictures that are good enough, and to worry less about post-processing. As a result, I'm actually sharing my photos more.


Setting a timer
In college I had a surreal one-time gig in which I drove Bobby McFerrin from his hotel to the conservatory for a concert. I agonized beforehand about what to say to him, whether there were any questions I should ask. In the end I needn't have worried, because he spent almost the entire car ride singing. Scatting nonsense syllables mainly, in a way that didn't leave a lot of room for conversation. Later he told students that he carries a kitchen timer wherever he goes. At the beginning of the day he sets it for 1 hour (I think I'm remembering that correctly), and presses ‘Start’ every time he gets a spare moment to practice. He told us we could never say we didn't have time to practice, because even if you don't have an uninterrupted hour in your day, you can always work in practice time in shorter increments. The lesson stuck with me. I'm trying something similar, although not exactly the same, to buckle down and get some real work done (this MUST be the season I overcome my procrastination habits). Whenever I sit down to work on a task like translating or studying, I've been setting a timer on my phone for 30 minutes and then switching it into airplane mode. I work straight for that time without distractions, and then I allow myself to do something else for a few minutes. It's called the Pomodoro Technique, and I'm loving it. Having a self-imposed time limit makes me work more efficiently, and I'm not tempted to check my watch (or my email) nearly as often.

What new things are you trying?


  1. Well, I think... oops, time is up.

  2. Ooh, I like the self-imposed timer. But mine would have to be very short at work, because I get interrupted by real human beings...

    I was really big on gratitude lists - I found that I was able to be vague enough on it and most people aren't reading my blog anyway. I did two projects - a year of happy lists for each week and 30 days of gratitude in November.

    I've been using my iPhone camera as well - but I'm looking forward to learning more about my camera this year. And maybe upgrade the body... it's about 6 years old now...


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