Autumn is nearly over. The air outside is damp with the smell of the leaves beginning their return to the soil.
Just a few days ago, these bright orange leaves stopped me in my tracks. I didn't have long to pause, but I didn't want to miss this part of fall's slow finale.
I found myself returning to this snapshot yesterday as I pondered my next right thing. If you’ve been paying attention here, you might not be surprised to learn this happened while I listened to Emily P. Freeman’s latest podcast episode, Look Back – How Reflection Can Help You Make Better Decisions.
Although, I'm getting better at setting goals and working toward them, I'm still not great about regularly and intentionally pausing to consider where I've been and what I've learned there.
I want to change that.
I love Emily's idea of using an accessible daily practice (just a single line per day) along with a heftier seasonal list of what she's learned. I’ve read a few of these What We Learned lists before, but yesterday I knew it was time for me to start taking part.
I haven’t been keeping track for the past three months, but I’m not going to stress over that. Here are a few random things that come to mind as I reflect.
1. I need to pay attention to what drains me and what gives me life.
I can’t always avoid the things that drain me, but I can often make adjustments so they aren’t quite as exhausting. For instance, I love my adorable little Craigslist desk, but now that my workload is picking up, I’ve discovered it’s the wrong setup for my neck and back.
On the life-giving side, I love having early mornings to myself. For me, it’s worth missing a little sleep to start each day with peace and quiet.
2. I’m pretty sure I enjoy picture books just as much as my children do.
3. I’m a cozy minimalist at heart.
And I need more soft lines and natural shapes in my living room.
4. When DIYing a kid’s birthday party, spend time on one or two big things (that your kid will actually care about), and don’t stress about the details.
Jackson turned four earlier this month. When people asked what he wanted for his birthday, he repeatedly mentioned a rocket and planets, so we decided to surprise him with an outer space party.
I scavenged cardboard and asked Jonathan to build a rocket with it. Then I cut out and painted 2D cardboard planets to hang from the ceiling. We stayed up late the night before, but party prep was otherwise pretty simple. The cupcake frosting was a total rush job—sprinkles to the rescue!—and Jackson cared exactly 0%. But he was SO excited about the cardboard rocket ship. He and Caleb still play in it all the time.
5. A timer can be your prayer life’s BFF.
I just learned this a couple days ago, and it’s already been incredibly helpful. If you’re someone who wants to pray more but struggles to make the time, try setting a timer several times a day for just 1-5 minutes. Focus on a single topic and pray until your time is up.
6. I usually need plenty of time and space for creative work.
This overlaps a bit with #1. As I’m paying more attention and discovering the rhythms of life that work best for me, I’ve noticed I’m just not someone who can crank out a ton of my own content in a short amount of time. Maybe someday I’ll figure it out, but for now, accepting this reality helps me plan better and avoid feeling like a failure.
With advent about to begin, I’m looking forward to doing more of what author Shannan Martin calls “the ministry of paying attention.” I want to look for the beauty and the wisdom that are waiting if we simply have eyes to see and a willingness to reflect.
I’d love to hear some of what you’ve been learning too! Silly or serious, big or small, it’s worth sharing!
You’re welcome to leave a comment, or write your own post and join in the link up that Emily P. Freeman hosts here!