What I’m Learning + What I’m Into {January 2015}

 

I continue to be inspired by a couple of my favorite bloggers to join in on a fun month-end post with a whole bunch of awesome bloggers. I’m joining Emily at Chatting at the Sky to share some of the things I’ve learned, am still learning, or have been reminded of during this month. And also joining Leigh Kramer to share what I’ve been into lately. So this post is a little more laid back, a little random, and a little reflective, but I hope you’ll enjoy and maybe be inspired to think about some great things that have happened this month or the many things you’ve learned. 

 

A Few Things I’ve Learned

 

1. How to keep going on big projects

Well, let’s be honest, I haven’t figured it all out, but I have figured out that I’m someone who loves the beginning part of working on a project (mapping it all out, planning, and organizing). I also love the feeling of finishing a project or task (any fellow task-oriented friends out there?), but when it comes to all that stuff in the middle, I usually want to give up.

So, what did I do this month when I felt stuck? I told myself that I was going to work on this project for a certain time frame and challenge myself to see how much I could get done. Sometimes I use this tactic to trick myself into cleaning (how much can I clean in the kitchen in just 15 minutes?), but it’s also proven to be helpful in pushing past the roadblock of feeling stuck on a project. Today, from 10:30-12, I will work on closet clearing. During that time I’ll be focused only on that project. Then I’ll eat lunch and reward myself by watching the latest Pretty Little Liars (don’t judge me). 

I’d love to hear your methods and tactics of moving past roadblocks or conquering the feeling of overwhelm as well!

 

2. When I have the most energy

I’ve realized more and more that I do my best work when it’s light out (which explains why the winter is such a challenge for me). But even though it’s still dark in the early morning, I also find that I enjoy the peaceful solitude of mornings and do find some creative energy there as well. It’s so helpful for me to know this because I’ve started to build my day around this energy–making sure to do menial, mindless tasks (dishes and laundry) at night instead of trying to do creative ones.

Good morning! As much as I adore the long days of summer, the soft winter sunrises can't be beat.

A photo posted by Naomi Liz Figueroa (@naomilizblog) on

 

3. Keep on doing the little things toward your goals–they add up.

“The way to do a great deal is to keep on doing a little. The way to do nothing at all is to be continually resolving that you will do everything.”
-C.H. Spurgeon

 

4. Hearing old family stories is my favorite.

This month I took a spontaneous road trip to visit my grandparents because I haven’t seen them in about 4 or 5 years and miss them terribly. It was a bittersweet visit because my grandmother’s health hasn’t been the best, but it is always good to be able to spend time together and enjoy the company of family.

Over the course of the weekend, my grandfather and aunt told me so many stories about when my dad and his siblings were younger and growing up in Colombia, as well as other little things I never knew about my dad…

  • he worked in a coal mine in Pennsylvania (when I was an infant). Ummm, what??
  • when my grandparents were missionaries in Colombia, my dad, uncle, and aunt used to make a long trek up a dangerous trail (no guardrail, edge of the mountain type stuff–side note, this explains a lot of our family adventures when I was a kid) to an indigenous village. My dad had a great propensity for language and was able to learn the language and communicate pretty well with the tribe there. 
  • he taught my uncle (who was terrified of water) how to swim.

 

 

What I’m Into

 

1. Cleansing the Clutter!

In December, I listened to the audio book The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, and it inspired me in a number of ways. One of the things I loved about it was the idea of having a focus for each month, and having mini goals or resolutions around that focus area. When I sat down to think about doing my own happiness project this year, it was totally overwhelming, so I decided to do a 3-month project instead.

To kick off the year and create a space at home that feels both peaceful and energizing, I decided to tackle cleansing the clutter in my home this month, room by room. One of my mantras for this project was “Find a home for everything.” There are so many little things that lay on counters and are shoved in drawers, but now part of my process is to make sure everything has a place where it belongs. It’s the end of the month, and I still have a few rooms to go, but the ones that are finished feel so. amazing.

One big takeaway that has helped me (so far) to keep things tidy and organized is something that Gretchen shared that worked for herself: “Don’t put off anything that will take less than a minute to do.” So that cup that is sitting by my computer when it’s time for bed? Seriously, it’ll take 30 seconds to take it to the kitchen, so don’t put it off. File this one under: “Mind tricks to get you to clean.”

 

2. Parenthood Finale–no spoilers

Ah, I can’t take it! I have loved this show and can’t believe it’s over. We’ll miss you, Bravermans. That’s really all there is to say.
PS. Lauren Graham, now would be a good time to do that Gilmore Girls movie. PRETTYPLEASE

 

3. Downton Abbey is back!

I love this show so much–so many great storylines! Also, it’s always quotable:

  • “I’m going upstairs to take off my hat.”  –Mary
  • “Well, there’ll be a glorious revolution down here if you don’t watch it!”  –Mrs. Patmore to Daisy

 

4. Keeping a One Sentence Journal

A totally doable goal, and I’ve been keeping it in the notes section of my planner. It’s become a nightly habit that I’m loving!

 

5. Books, Articles, and Writing

  • I love this creative, peaceful, and thought-provoking way that ministers stood in solidarity with others when mugshots of black men were being used for target practice. I’m incredibly disturbed that this was happening in the first place, but I do love this response. It’s not malicious, but it makes a strong point that we need to remember the humanity in others.
  • finally read 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker and I’m so glad I did! It came at the perfect time for me, as I was already feeling very reflective about all the stuff I have with all the clutter clearing. I keep a Pinterest board going for all the books I’m reading each year, so you can check out the rest of them there.
  • A timely article for my January “Cleanse the Clutter” focus: The Link Between Clutter and Depression.
  • I loved this article and think that everyone in the developed world needs to read it. In short, multitasking is not efficient. Here are some highlights:
    • “Even though we think we’re getting a lot done, ironically, multitasking makes us demonstrably less efficient.”
    • “Instead of reaping the big rewards that come from sustained, focused effort, we instead reap empty rewards from completing a thousand little sugar-coated tasks.”
    • “When all phones were wired to a wall, there was no expectation of being able to reach us at all times – one might have gone out for a walk or been between places – and so if someone couldn’t reach you (or you didn’t feel like being reached), it was considered normal.”
    • “…the kind of rapid, continual shifting we do with multitasking causes the brain to burn through fuel so quickly that we feel exhausted and disoriented after even a short time. We’ve literally depleted the nutrients in our brain.”
    • “…we are sacrificing efficiency and deep concentration when we interrupt our priority activities with email.”
  • On why too much screen time is stressing out our brains.
  • I read several other fantastic articles about justice, faith, and Latin America, and you can check them on my Pinterest boards here: Justice Issues and Cuba

 

What are some things you learned this month, or things you’ve been loving lately?

 

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  • Naomi, where to begin?! Everything you shared reinforced much of what I’ve been learning and served as confirmation that I’m on the right track. I’m making a note of The Happiness Project. It sounds like it would fit well with my one word intention to simplify this year. Also, I echo your cry for a Gilmore Girls movie! I’ve been introducing my daughters to Rory and Lorelai and all my Stars Hollow favorites over the past couple of months (on Netflix). I really look forward to reading about what you’re learning and what you’re into in February! 🙂