Jeanne: If It Doesn’t Bring You Joy

USA - 2019 Primetime Emmy Creative Arts Awards - Los AngelesAfter twelve weeks of being cooped up in my house, I’ve been giving some thought to doing a Marie Kondo on my life: clearing out the things that don’t bring me joy. Although my house could probably use some de-cluttering (especially the basement and the kitchen junk drawers), I’ve been focusing more on streamlining my emotional life, asking myself what I want from this last quarter of my time on Earth and what is getting in the way of my achieving that.

So what do I want? Well, in no particular order:

  • I want to return to Europe another time or two. I’d like to see something of Spain and Italy, for sure, but those trips are on hold at least until there’s a vaccine that makes air travel safe again.
  • I want to tell more stories.
  • I want to continue learning to write better.
  • I want to learn more about local flora and fauna.
  • I want spend more time hiking, preferably with a canine buddy.
  • I want to read a bunch of books I never seem to have time for.
  • I want to see more movies (versus TV shows).
  • I want to see friends again. (I suspect that shortfall may be at the root of my malaise but there’s not much to be done about it for now.)

What would I like to do less of?

  • I’d like to cook less.
  • I’d like to spend less time doing book marketing related activities.
  • I’d like to spend less time on life administration–sending in claim forms and arguing with my insurance company about whether I need to do a telehealth well-visit. (Yes, I get that Medicare pays you to make me waste an hour chatting with someone about my perfectly fine health but I don’t want to.)

More than anything, I’d like to spend less time “channel surfing” available activities. When I do get some free time, I spend so much time dithering, trying to choose what to do next, that it all goes to waste.

Maybe if I’m clearer about which activities will leave me feeling satisfied instead of frustrated I can make better use of my time.

What about you? What brings you joy? And what would you like to do less of?

7 thoughts on “Jeanne: If It Doesn’t Bring You Joy

  1. I dithered the other day, too, and then scolded myself for “wasting” time. Usually when I dither, it’s because I’m a little depressed. I know that about myself, so I launch into self-care activities before the depression gets worse. It can be hard to get started, but if I’m just dithering, I put self-care on top of the list and start. I go for a walk and/or do some yard work, not even because I like doing those things, but because I know being outside improves one’s mood, and then I can also check them off my list, giving me a nice glow of self-satisfaction. And then I call a friend. and then I find a TV show, read a book, eat cookies. And after a day or two, I’m not dithering, even if I’m “wasting” time.

    I’d actually like to find the joy in updating my existing books and finding ways to give them a wider reach. Right now I consider every minute I spend on marketing to be a minute I’ll never get back, but I’d like to try to redirect those feelings into more positive channels. Do I like my books? Do I want them to have a new prom dress, or not? And if I want them to have a new prom dress, I have to do what I have to do to get one. And I’ll enjoy it once I have it, so…just do it, as Nike would say.

    • Thanks for the wise counsel, Kay. Things seem to be better today than when I wrote this post. Weirdly, one of the things that helped was taking my Amazon ad spend and my books sales, page reads and sales rank (which measures the first two things plus downloads) and analyzing the impact of changing my blurb. I don’t like having to think of ways to convince people to try my books, but I actually enjoy putzing around on the analysis end.

      I’ve recently started trying to convince my 18-year-old granddaughter, a recent high school graduate, to learn to be an author’s assistant. She wants a job, but it’s probably the worst time to be a recent high school grad in search of work in the last 30 years. I think if she learned how to create, target and run ads and various promotions for authors she could probably earn a decent income, and when she starts college in the fall she could work it around her course schedule.

      If I convince her, and she gets through the learning curve, I’ll let you know!

      • Oh, that sounds like a great idea! My daughter had a part-time job doing administrative work and helping her job with their Instagram page. She really loves learning about these things, even though they have nothing to do with her degree in environmental science. It’s a step forward to other jobs, though, and she can work from home. She’s got to decide this summer whether to stay with that job when school starts up (she’s not in school anymore), or find something else. With the vaccine for Coronavirus being still a goal not a reality, she might have to stick with part-time and get her extra pay in experience.

  2. I would like to clean the kitchen less. Every flippin’ day, it’s like an army of caterers made food for a party of 100.

    I would like to exercise more. I sit here in my home office and look out at our view (which is gorgeous) and I wish I could be out in. Maybe not today because it’s hot as blazes, though I do need to compost. I trench compost directly in the garden so it’s a little more complicated than dumping in a spinny thing and turning it. And I do have Zoom yoga today. I’ve been enjoying that even if I miss the social interaction of being in the studio.

  3. Yes! More exercise, for sure.

    My gym just reopened but I don’t think it’s safe to go there and the longer I stay away the more lax I become about exercising.

    Which may be another source of my malaise.

  4. Pingback: Michille: One Thing A Day – Eight Ladies Writing

  5. I don’t know what I’d choose less of. I still feel like I’m recuperating from burnout from my last job, and I spend a lot of my time sleeping. Finally, I’m doing lawnwork as exercise — although, it tends to take over my waking thoughts. I’m doing about two hours a day, and I’d like to cut that down to 45 minutes.

    The lack of structure in my day is what really gets me. I don’t have time for the ukulele anymore. I don’t have time for writing or reading or any of the things I used to do for fun. I have to MAKE time, I guess, since time is all I really have now. I have done better on the reading, at least, and I still play the ukulele once or twice a week.

    It’s so weird to have my kid back home, too. My youngest is doing her college classes online, and taking driving lessons in person. We fell into such an easy pattern of cooking and eating and sleeping and taking care of the pets for the two months before her classes started. It was really nice, but I get that guilty itch of “I should be doing more!”

    As you say, we’re not in the first halves of our lives with decades and decades stretching before us. We’re in the second half, and that deadline is looming more clearly with each birthday.

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