I started this series to encourage me to 1) put a little more effort into my photography again, and 2) notice and acknowledge some of the many wonderful things and ideas that are all around me on a regular basis. For these posts, I’m challenging myself to take at least five pictures of beauty, as well as document five specific experiences or things that have brought me delight, pleasure, or joy. To see past editions of the series, click HERE.
While I originally meant for these goodness + beauty posts to happen monthly, I think it makes more sense almost to do them seasonally. Even though we’re quickly heading into autumn, I wanted to make sure I gathered together some thoughts about a few little things that have brought me delight or shifted my perspective during this summer.
I’ve written (and will write) some of the more profound thoughts I’ve had as we’ve gone through a lot of really intense challenges over the past few months in other posts, but I want this particular post to be a little bit on the lighter side.
Here’s my collection of thoughts and images for summer 2023:
Note: There may be affiliate links to books and products mentioned below.
i. creative procrastination
I’ve been reading the book Eat That Frog lately, and I’ve immediately been able to see why the book is such a classic in the business and productivity world. I’ve felt hugely motivated by it, and then the other day I came across this life-changing gem:
“Everyone procrastinates. The difference between high performers and low performers is largely determined by what they choose to procrastinate on. Since you must procrastinate anyway, decide today to procrastinate on low-value activities. Decide to procrastinate on, outsource, delegate, and eliminate those activities that don’t make much of a contribution to your life.”
Why is this life changing?
Because I’ve known I have a problem with procrastination my whole life, especially during my school years, and it’s something I’ve been a bit hard on myself about. Now as an adult, I’ve constantly been trying to battle that natural tendency, but I still felt like I was forever falling short. I even once took a “procrastination inventory” to try and see where I was constantly putting things off, just so I could try and counteract it.
This idea to consciously procrastinate less important tasks is actually enormously freeing for me. Here I was, thinking I should never procrastinate anything, and this is like a giant permission slip that it’s totally okay–good, even!–if I make the conscious choice of what to procrastinate and what not to.
It also was a reminder that because I DON’T usually procrastinate the really important things, I’m probably doing just fine.
ii. finding flow
I’ve been subscribed to James Clear’s email newsletter for ages (he’s the author of Atomic Habits, and his weekly emails are GOLD), and a quote he shared in one of his recent newsletters struck me like an electric shock:
“Anxiety is thought without control. Flow is control without thought.”
I’ve mentioned in a few posts (like this one) about how my anxiety has been reduced by about 95% over the past few years since learning a few good strategies (like this one) to manage it naturally. In fact, I wouldn’t consider myself to suffer from anxiety at all anymore, because whenever it does try to flare up every now and then, I just practice the mental strategies I’ve learned until it goes away again.
Learning about the old mental habits I used to get into that made my anxiety worse has made me much more conscious about how I think in general, and it’s also helped me to make sure I’m feeding the thought habits that I want rather than the ones that I don’t.
Anyway, I’ve always loved how the idea of “flow” put a term to a phenomenon I often experience during certain activities, like floral arranging or writing or baking. I love how James Clear put that flow is “control without thought,” and that he juxtaposed it against anxiety, which is the exact opposite. It’s just given me one more positive strategy to focus on (spending time in activities that give me flow) whenever the anxiety does try to flare up again, and I’m all for having more tools in my arsenal for healthier thoughts and ways to deal with difficult emotions.
iii. waking up to a clean kitchen
Along with leaning into becoming a true minimalist, I’ve been developing some new cleaning routines and mantras for myself over the past few months. One huge shift in my thinking? Looking at cleaning as self care.
Before, I always viewed housekeeping, cleaning, and tidying as things that took me away from what I really wanted to be doing.
However, I’ve recently shifted my thinking, and it’s made all the difference in the world.
Instead of thinking of the typical household chores as endless, nagging tasks that I have to do over and over and over again whether I like it or not, I’ve started viewing having a tidy workspace as a future gift I’m giving myself. One huge thing I’ve started doing is making sure I tidy the kitchen every single night before bed, no matter how tired I am. And you know, it’s such a gift to wake up and come out to a clean kitchen. It makes me feel energized and ready to start the day, rather than making me feel like I’m already behind.
This simple mental shift means that I no longer dread cleaning or put off tidying — it means that I’m constantly using little pockets of time to keep things organized as a way to treat myself to a clean space, and our home has felt vastly different since.
iv. baby cuddles
The newborn stage has never been my favorite, but knowing that Naomi is my last baby has definitely helped me to savor this season rather than wish it to pass faster. (Admittedly, it also helps that Naomi is by far the easiest baby we’ve had…seriously, I didn’t know babies COULD be this easy!)
There’s something about knowing that a particular season truly is your last that reminds you that this point in time is finite, and that you might as well embrace that fact and lean into it.
Even though I no longer have hours upon hours of cuddle time built into my days like I did in the NICU, I still make it a point to savor every pocket of snuggle time I do get, and I also look for ways to extend those pockets wherever possible, guilt-free.
v. relaxed rhythms
Now that school has started back up, we’re definitely back into a much stricter schedule, but boy, did I love the relaxed rhythms that summer brought! For me, the ideal days are about a third super productive, a third spent in activities that bring me joy (like reading, blogging, spending time with family), and a third spent resting. I feel like our summer rhythm as a family really embraced that philosophy, with the first hours of our days spent in specific productive tasks (flower farming, chores, summer workbooks for the kids), which were followed up by free play time for the kids, rest time in the afternoon, and family time together at night.
I’ve yet to figure out how to bring that kind of rhythm into this current season (and will likely be unable to try too much until flower farming season is over), but I’m excited to explore the idea again when our first frost hits, which is when I have a bit more time on my hands again.
I’d love it if you shared some of the positive mindset shifts or little pleasures that have brought you goodness and beauty lately–please consider dropping a comment below and sharing!