3:30 Thursday, Projects

17 Lessons to carry into 2018

For me, 2017 was a year of inviting and accepting paradox. I believe (and perhaps this is a little “woo woo” but it’s how I feel about it) that life is always sending us lessons: the sooner we listen, the less painful it will be.

The biggest lesson I feel that life has taught me in 2017 is that many times, the action, attitude or belief I’m looking for lies on the razor edge of paradox. As we say goodbye to 2017 and hello to a new year, I want to share some of the paradoxes I have come to accept (often the hard way) in 2017. tumblr_n09kfduO0y1trprbro1_500

  1. Say AND instead of But. Say YES instead of No. Whatever follows can be the same: ‘and’ and ‘yes’ open up your life to more possibilities, and when a NO is required, it is stronger.
  2. Slow progress is not the same as no progress. AND Sometimes, you have to sit down and get something done.
  3. Sometimes it’s okay to just let things go. AND sometimes it’s okay to not let things go

    Thoughts on Happiness (these may not be true paradoxes, but they’re worth considering)

  4. My actions and attitudes affect other people’s happiness, AND it’s not my job to make other people happy
    side note: I’m not responsible for my children’s happiness AND I can create an environment that cultivates their happiness
  5. I am happier when I set an intention and follow through with it

    A few thoughts on help

  6. It is not cheating to ask for help
  7. Secure yourself before trying to assist someone else

    Lessons from an ugly wart
    Feel free to skip this if you think non-contagious skin conditions are gross.Back story: Shortly after my second daughter was born (2 years ago) a wart appeared on my left finger. In that time I have tried tea tree oil, garlic, duct tape, Dr. Scholl’s Wart Remover, specialty wart removing soap, apple cider vinegar, etc. to get rid of the wart. As we begin 2018, it is still sitting on my finger.

    I feel like this wart has taught me several important lessons.

  8. Just because something is there, doesn’t mean you have to give it your attention
  9. Ignoring things does not make them go away AND most things will go away in their own time (whether you want them to or not)
  10. Sometimes it’s worth the effort to make a doctor’s appointment

    Be and love yourself

  11. Engage in person
  12. No one else has to care about your passion AND it’s okay to share your passions with other (because enthusiasm is fun)
  13. You need to have a budget for underwear
  14. Do things you love because you love them, not because other people approve of them.

    (For example – I have loved being a part of the 3:30 Project: reading my dear friends’ posts and putting my thoughts on a variety of topics into words was one of my great joys of 2017. I’m grateful to you for reading them, and I would have enjoyed doing this without a single reader all year.)

  15. Take care of your body because you love your body

    This was a revolutionary idea for me. It came to me one day when I was thinking about my exercise routine and getting in shape, and how hard it all is. I lamented that my husband wakes up an hour or more before me 2-3 days a week to get his work out in. I was jealous of his discipline.

    Then, I was struck with a realization. It was as though the heavens parted and the angels sang: I realized that he works out because he loves his body. Not in a vain, self-absorbed way, but in a genuine way – he wants to get the best out of himself and be his best self for me, for our kids, for our business, for our students, etc. And he knows that he is better able to be his best self when he exercises.

    The more I thought about it, the more mind-blowing it was. I realized that for as long as I’ve been “out of shape,” I’ve been trying to hate my body into something acceptable. I wanted to deprive it of bad food so it would be good. I wanted to sweat out the fat so that I wouldn’t look like a fat cow.

    But, when I think about my possessions: The ones I like, the ones I love, the ones I treasure – I treat them well. I dust the bookcase I made with my grandparents the summer between 7th and 8th grade and treat it with a wood polish to preserve it. I use bookmarks in special books so I don’t have to dog-ear the pages. I carefully hand wash and dry my favorite coffee mugs, so they’re not damaged in the dishwasher.

    What if I treated my body like that?

  16. You don’t usually get to solve a problem just once.
    I tend to think that with tasks in my life – getting in shape, sticking to my budget, playing with my kids, having a good day at work – that if I could just get it right once, I’d stay on track.

    But, I’m beginning to appreciate that it doesn’t really work that way. You’re never going to get one haircut and never have to worry about your hair again. You’re never going to take a shower and not have to worry about keeping yourself clean anymore. You will never brush your teeth once and for all. These things just come up again and again. So, whether it’s a problematic behavior from my kids, going grocery shopping or a bedtime routine – I need to accept that most problems don’t stay solved.

  17. We must find a way to live our lives like we’re going to live a long time, and as though our lives could end at any moment.

    Perhaps it was because of my 30th birthday. Perhaps it’s because my daughters are growing up so quickly, and I feel the passage of time so acutely. Perhaps it’s because my dog is getting older and I feel like we may not have many years left with her, but I put a lot of thought energy into mortality this year.

    Taking the time to remember how fragile we are, and how precious life is has been helpful to me. It helps me remember to tell my daughters I love them. I try to always leave them on a positive note (just in case). And, it helps me keep my frustrations in perspective (this too shall pass).

    But at the same time, we could have a long time left on this earth. If I live to be 100, then I have 70 years left. That is a very long time. It’s hard for me to keep both things in my mind. I still have time for many things, and the only time I have is now.


    Thank you for joining us in the 3:30 project this year. It has certainly been a place for growth, joy and fun this year. I cannot wait to see what 2018 holds for us all!

    Happy New Year!

3:30 Thursday, Motivation Monday, Something Swell on Saturday

Falling Forward…

The 3:30 Project is a collaborative blog by life long friends: this month,  Maggie and Mary Margaret muse on the arrival of the autumnal season! This week Mary Margaret admits to being less than thrilled to see summer slip away, but asks herself to confront that attitude. 

If I had a dime for every time someone told me that fall was their favorite season in the city…well, I’d say it might help make a dent in the rent on my Brooklyn apartment. (But who’s passing out these proverbial dimes for common occurrences anyway? Put them in touch with me, please.)

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The love of fall in New York runs deep, and once the conversation begins, inevitably leads to talk of sweaters and boots, crisp, cool air, pumpkin-spiced everything, Halloween and Thanksgiving. While the autumnal season was a different matter altogether when I lived in Georgia, I’m afraid that now I feel twinges of guilt at not sharing completely in everyone else’s harvest exaltations (bring on the cornucopias!). It’s not that I dislike fall, exactly; pears are, after all, my favorite fruit.

Honestly fall, it’s just what you portend that I dread: (Now it’s time for me to make a cultural reference to a wildly popular television show that I don’t watch…)

Winter is coming.

People complain vociferously about the heat and smells of July and August in NYC, but I can’t help but love summer here with long days, sunny parks, free outdoor concerts and yoga classes, languid evenings when I feel like I could walk the city sidewalks forever. As summer winds to its conclusion, though, I find it hard to combat the images I see stretched out before me. I feel in that exquisitely crisp air the air that follows close behind—bitter, sometimes painful, winter winds that leave me seeking the shortest distance between one building and another, scurrying around without peripheral vision, which has been obliterated by my cocoon of hat and scarf and hood. I know that the crunchy dry leaves under my feet signal that soon my skin will get so dry and raw that it will split open constantly at work, threatening to spread scarlet spots onto the costumes I’m working with. I know that each day for many months ahead will allow me fewer and fewer minutes in which to seek out sunlight.

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I fully understand that the world has far more inhospitable winter climates than New York. I recognize the incredible privilege of owning warm clothes and living and working in heated spaces. At the same time that I try to remind myself of these factors, perhaps I am also allowed to concede that winter is just simply more tiring to this heat-loving southern girl.  Maggie and I have talked often about the need to resist the complaining impulse, which is ever close at hand, but I think there is also a space we can hold to acknowledge that something is simply difficult for us. Winter is coming. And winter is not my favorite, taking a greater toll on me physically and emotionally than any other time of year.

I think there could actually be something beneficial in naming this as a personal challenge for me, so that I can do two things in the immediate present…

  1. Not skip over the lovely things of fall by mentally somersaulting into my frigid future.
  2. Rather than wallowing in memories of unpleasant winters past, use those memories to prepare myself for what lies ahead.

Since we all know I love a list, I see no better place to begin than by finding some things I can delight in immediately now that fall has arrived; then, beginning to name some simple reminders of things I can do to have a healthier, more balanced winter…I think sometimes it takes surprisingly little to challenge a sense of dread with a measure of joyful expectation.

  1. Things to love in autumn:

*The brilliant leaves in Prospect Park and Greenwood Cemetery near my house

*Pumpkin, yes pumpkin-flavored stuff (I admit it, I like it- Sorry! Unoriginal but true!) Also, tiny pumpkins that are suddenly sold everywhere. They are the most adorable of gourds; just admit it.

*Knitting weather (one of my favorite hobbies is so much nicer this time of year)

*Scary Halloween movies on Netflix. I can’t fully explain my love of silly horror movies, but there it is.

*Warm soup, hot coffee

*University of Georgia football- I don’t always get to watch, since I work on Saturdays, but I still enjoy keeping up with the season!

  1. Ways to make this winter more bearable:

*Candles: This is ultra-simple, but the act of lighting a candle in my home is inexplicably warming and soothing to my soul in the dark days of winter

*Yoga, yoga, yoga. Winter makes me tense because of the sheer act of bracing against the cold. By having a regular plan to practice several times a week, I can help myself from becoming a solid mass of nerves and clenched muscle.

*Plan a break: It was very helpful to me last year to know that I would be able to leave New York for a while and visit Georgia in January. Of course it is also winter in Georgia, but it was immensely helpful to have a momentary break from the intensity of New York winter specifically.

*Long novels, more writing, more learning. I want to challenge myself this year to see what I can do when the weather drives me indoors. With less desire to take my long rambling walks, what indoor adventures and pursuits of the mind can I engage with this year?

So there’s somewhere for me to start. When Maggie suggested that we write about the season of fall as a general topic, I knew that I needed to confront head-on the negativity that I felt creeping in these past two weeks as temperatures started to drop. I’m not exactly ready to join the fall-e-lu-jah chorus and make a joyful noise, but even though winter is coming (scarier than Halloween!!), I already feel a little better (by leaning harder into a spirit of thanks-giving, another excellent fall holiday!).

Never underestimate the power of the list, especially lists that help us count our blessing.