Appreciating home

October flew by and I almost missed writing this post. One reason may be because I’m making some changes to my daily routine, with the biggest one being daily exercise. I credit/blame my new FitBit — it keeps me accountable, and I can’t fool myself into thinking that I’m more active than I actually am. As a result, I’m getting much more exercise than I used to, and I’m sleeping better too. All good things.

This month marks 16 years that I’ve lived in my current home, which is the longest I’ve stayed anywhere, including my childhood home. Like any long-term relationship, I’d been taking it for granted lately and even fell into the trap of thinking I’d be happier someplace else. Part of it may be because I met a new neighbor who moved to my building from a ritzier area and she clearly hates it here. I get it. Living in a high rise is not for everyone, especially coming from a big house with a yard.

Unfortunately, I let her attitude affect me and I even went as far as checking out a townhouse for sale in a more residential neighborhood. I didn’t even have to enter the townhouse (which felt cramped despite having 50% more square footage than my current place) to nix the whole idea. The area was too quiet, too removed from the downtown vibe I’m used to. The relief I felt when I returned to my little box in the sky wiped out all thoughts of moving.

The clincher was when a friend called that evening and asked if I wanted to watch the UofM-MSU game that was live-screening at a nearby movie theatre. How nearby? I got there in less than 10 minutes, on foot.

Sometimes I have to wander my town like a tourist to really appreciate where I live. My building is even next to a hotel! It’s an incredibly walkable town, and not just in the bars/restaurants/cute shops kind of way. The mixed use layout here means I can walk to a grocery store, two hardware stores, two drugstores, the library, several parks, the doctor’s office, the post office, the community theatre, city hall, an Amtrak station(!), even the auto mechanic. It’s so convenient to simply drop off my car for an oil change and walk back home. And if I ever feel lonely, all I have to do is step outside. There are always people around, and simply being among them makes me feel less alone.

No place is perfect, but it’s easy to let the search for perfect get in the way of appreciating the good, or even great. I’m now putting more TLC into my current living space and I already feel better. If I ever get that grass-is-greener urge again, I’ll visit a McMansion subdivision. That’ll creep me out for at least a year.

2021 reflections

It’s the time of year when many of us reflect on how we spent the last 12 months. For me, 2021 was the year I reclaimed a lot of my time and attention:

  • I quit reading the news (I highly recommend it–the stress raises your cortisol, which in turn suppresses your immune system and that’s the last thing you need right now).
  • I quit all volunteer activities except for writing Postcards to Voters. For some activities, like community theatre, it was a difficult decision because I enjoyed making props and decorating sets. Other activities were easy to quit because I always felt used.
  • I started learning guitar. For me, this was the key that clarified the rest of my priorities. I found it easier to say no to time-wasters when I had a weekly lesson to prepare for, and committing to music rejuvenated my commitment to writing.
  • I quit trying to be traditionally published and embraced self-publishing. I wrote more about it here, but I have to say this is the best creative decision I’ve made in the 20+ years I’ve been writing. My brain is full of ideas again and best of all, I’m having fun. It’s been too long since I had fun writing.

The world is filled with people and organizations who will gladly tell you how you should spend your time. The best thing to do is ignore them. Your life is too precious to squander on people who see you only as a tool for their own agendas. If your goals and their goals align, great! But don’t let someone else’s priorities be your priorities because of peer pressure or guilt or other mindgames that reveal how little they respect you.

Each of us has unique gifts to share to the world, but if we don’t give ourselves the space to explore and develop those gifts, if we let others yank our attention all over the place, if we spend too much time reacting to the immediate instead of working on the long-term, those gifts will die. Your soul likely will too.

Remember, when you say “yes” to something, you say “no” to everything else. Make sure it’s worth the tradeoff.

What will you say “no” to in 2022? What more important things will you say “yes” to instead?