My goals for February:
1) Do daily FlyLady routines more regularly, particularly bathroom swish-and-swipe and morning and bedtime routines.
2) Streamline my weekly cleaning.
3) Add in 15 minutes a day of zone decluttering/detail cleaning.
The daily routines for goal #1 went great. I only missed a total of two swish-and-swipe days, and our toilets and sinks are very shiny. The other two goals, haven’t gone so well. Weekly cleaning is getting done, but it’s still a challenge because I try to do more than just the quickie clean one hour will allow and it ends up taking me two hours or more. I went gangbusters with the 15 minutes a day the first week, despite a snow storm that dropped eighteen inches of snow that needed shoveling, but since then I’ve only cleaned the kitchen and laundry room floors, wiped out the fridge, and used an old toothbrush to clean around the fifty-year-old faucets in one of the bathrooms. For that last one, I called my spouse at work to tell him I’d done it.
“Does it look a lot different?” he asked.
“It’s pretty subtle,” I admitted. “That’s why I called you. Now you’ll be ready to give me ample praise when you see the faucets tonight.”
It turns out I need more praise for household tasks than I realized I did.
This month, without any fanfare at all, I’ve started a daily metta (lovingkindness) practice. It has two main parts:
-Each morning after I wake up but before I get out of bed and each evening after I get in bed but before I fall asleep I do some breathing. I count five breaths just focusing on the breath and then I take two breaths for each of the following statements:
May I be safe.
May I be happy.
May I be healthy.
May I live with ease.
May I be free from suffering.
-During the day whenever there’s a lull or a time when I’m getting irritable, I breathe and repeat these statements to myself.
In the past week or so, I’ve started shifting to saying “we” instead of “I” when I repeat the statements, and I’m experimenting with saying them out loud with my kids before we start lessons each morning. Nothing miraculous has come of this, but I do feel less rattled when things don’t go my way and when I have a tantrum, I seem to cool down faster than before. The kids haven’t even mentioned the change, but they like to ring the Zen chime.
In The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion, author Christopher Germer cautions that when beginning metta practice, it’s common to have an immediate period of improvement followed by a period about five weeks into the practice when things actually seem to get worse. He attributes this to a shift from doing the practice for its own sake to doing the practice with an endpoint in mind. Knowing this, I’m going to try to temper my enthusiasm for any positive outcomes and keep an eye out for disillusionment and, hopefully, remember it’s all part of the process.
And now for March’s goal:
Reduce yelling and swearing.
1) Continue bringing awareness to my moods before I lose it through mindfulness and lovingkindness practices.
2) Sign up for Gretchen Rubin’s 21 Day Project “Quit Yelling At My Kids”
I’m hesitant about both of my goals this month, the first because listing the practice here attaches it to my goal to yell and swear less, which could derail the practice, and the second because it costs 5 bucks and involves getting a daily e-mail, which I have in spades already. But it’s only twenty-one days, and I figure it’s worth a shot. Plus I’m curious about what sort of tips Rubin has included in these projects.
People are generally surprised (or at least act surprised) when I tell them I yell and swear at home. I have a reputation for being “quiet,” which I can see, but it’s strange to me just how big a deal this seems to be. I mean, people at church have been going out of their way to thank me for talking in meetings, which feels weird because I feel like I’ve been talking all along.
At any rate, my yelling and swearing comes out when I’m with people I care about and who I know won’t stop loving me if I show my ugly side (although to be honest, this is a constant fear). Kind of a crappy reward for being one of my close friends or loved ones, and I’d like to curb it a bit.
It’s the last month of my Habit Experiment! I’m very glad to be about done with this particular project. It’s been educational, but I’m not feeling it like I thought I would.
Points to Ponder:
Do you ever find your goals to be at cross purposes, with one canceling out or threatening to cancel out another?