Emily over at Chatting at the Sky has made it a practice to record the things she learns each month. It’s a valuable habit, this habit of reflection, and so I’ve been joining her in it this year. If you’d like to join us as we remember, you can comment on this post with what you learned, or head over to Emily’s site and link up there.
Here’s what I learned in March:
1. Podcasts are a wonderful thing.
I do not know why it took me so long to join the 21st century in this regard, but I started listening to podcasts in March, and they have been so good for me. As long as it’s one that doesn’t require intense concentration, I can listen as I play on the floor with Katie, and it helps keep my mind occupied. Don’t get me wrong – I love the time I get to spend with my daughter – but there are only so many times I can build a tower for her to knock down, only so much intellectual stimulation that can come from interacting with a baby, and podcasts have been an excellent outlet for me. I’ve listened to Serial (yes, late to the game, I know) and various casts about writing and living intentionally. (Speaking of which: have any great suggestions for me?)
2. Write my first draft without editing. Every time.
Another lesson I should have learned long ago, but for whatever reason, it finally stuck this month. I listened to a podcast (see #1!) by Michael Hyatt on how to write a blog post in 70 minutes or less, and his point about writing and editing using different skills and hemispheres of the brain struck me. Perfectionist that I am, it has always been difficult for me to leave something that isn’t just right, but I committed to give it a try. Lo and behold, my writing output increased dramatically, and I found that I no longer wasted precious hours staring at a blank computer screen.
3. Receiving edits to something I’ve written is difficult. But good.
I admit, I’m human: I don’t like criticism. I also have a tendency toward self-doubt, so when I received a marked-up draft of an essay I’d written, it was not my favorite day. I was, ridiculously, rather discouraged, and I went to bed wondering whether I really ought to continue writing at all. (Melodramatic, much? Can I claim sleep-deprivation as an excuse? And also the need to grow up, some?) But the sun came up the next morning and I buckled down and got to work, and the result was much better than the original draft. I know constructive criticism, if I choose to receive it, will only make me a better writer. I just wish it was easier to take.
4. Certain dates are still bittersweet. They probably always will be. And that’s ok.
5. The secret to a successful dentist appointment: floss one week in advance.
I am terrible about flossing. I know this is something grown-ups should do consistently, but for whatever reason, I have always failed to make it a part of my regular routine. I’ll pull out the little box of string on occasion, but nowhere near as often as they recommend. As a result, dentist appointments tend to be miserable for me, ending with sore, bleeding gums and admonitions to take better care of my mouth. Well, I’ve stumbled on a secret to alleviate this problem (besides the obvious one of just flossing daily. I mean really, how hard is it?): I set my phone to remind me of an upcoming appointment 1-2 weeks in advance, and then I make sure to be very diligent about flossing for those ten days or so. Voila! No more bleeding gums, and the dentist is none the wiser.
6. Investing time in good friendships is worth it.
I tend to view time I take for friendships as a bit selfish, as “me-time” that should only come after everything else is done. This past month, I’ve been more diligent about having one-on-one time with a few good friends. I always come away from our times together refreshed and encouraged. The dishes and the laundry can wait.
7. I really ought to write these lessons down as they occur to me.
Last month, I meant to include a note about this homemade cough syrup which, while foul, really works, and this month, there’s something lesson tickling the back of my mind that I just can’t remember. If only I’d written them down. (Learning a lesson and putting it into practice are two entirely different things; I suppose you’ll just have to come back in April to see how I’ve done!)
What about you? What did you learn in March?