DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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1 November 2012

Lists and routines - be flexible

Hanno's doctor wasn't in yesterday so he saw someone new. He told Hanno that the medication he's taking for his blood pressure - Coversyl Plus - can cause gout. He back to the plain Coversyl now in the hope that it will help fix the problem. Thanks to everyone who wrote with suggestions for Hanno's health. He's tried vinegar, cherries, cranberry juice and many other things, but none of them worked. Hopefully this latest "fix" will.

I didn't have time to do the guest bedroom yesterday but it's on my list today, at the top. Tomorrow there will be a photo. I started writing this post two days ago and me not organising the bedroom illustrates the point of today's post. I must have known ; - )


I have written in the past about how trying to be perfect holds you back rather than helps you. Life as we live it is a changeable feast and what works one day, sometimes fails to work the next. I had an email a couple of weeks ago from a reader who have is having trouble coping with this flexible approach and it's making her life more difficult than it needs to be. Emily wrote that she read what I'd written about writing down what she wanted her life to look like and the ways she could go about realising that life. She wrote up a set of rules for herself as a guide. Her rules included "buy organic food" and "make green cleaners" as well as others, but those two in particular are giving her grief.  She couldn't do those two things every time she wanted to and it was making her feel guilty and lazy (her words, not mine).


I think Emily's approach to changing her life is commendable. She's committed, focused and determined for it to work but it seems to me that she's set herself up for failure by not being flexible enough. What happens in our daily lives is not set in stone. You don't have to make decisions that  never change. Living a simple life is organic and ever-changing. Life is complicated at times and sometimes those complications clash with lists and plans.


I suggested to Emily that instead of having "buy organic food" on her list, she should write down, "when my budget allows, buy organic food". Instead of "make green cleaners" I asked her to write down "put aside one Saturday afternoon every three months to make green cleaners". It won't take an entire afternoon but she should give herself time so she's not rushed and she has time to write down any changes she makes and to have a cup of tea when she's finished.



We're not in the army. We have no strict rules to go by and while it's wonderful and helpful to write down your goals, remember that you're human and sometimes things don't go according to plan. So when you're writing your lists, be flexible and soften your bullet points. This is supposed to be enjoyable, not a way of causing guilt and extra pressure. Don't be too hard on yourself.



Look for the pleasure in the ordinary things that surround you. Take the time to enjoy what you do. And if you don't have the time to do one of the things on your list, that's fine, tell yourself it is and that you'll do it tomorrow. When you're out in the world either shopping, working or driving around, there are hundreds of rules you have to abide by. The rules of the road, the social rules of personal space and courtesy, you don't steal from the shops you go to, you silently respect those around you. The rules are endless. One of the many pleasures of being at home is that the only rules that apply are those you and your family make. Make your lists but be flexible.


One of the things that works well for me is to make a daily list. I usually write it when I'm writing this blog in the early morning. I jot down things I need to do and want to do during the day - the most important ones at the top, less important at the bottom. As I work through the day, I cross them off and if I get to the end of the day, or to the end of my strength, with something on the list still undone, I write up tomorrow's list and it's on the top of that. Sometimes I regret not doing that one thing but most of the time I just know that it's the way things are and no amount of guilt, regret, sadness or anger will change what is.

37 comments:

  1. Great advice Rhonda. As John Lennon sang, life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans!! As long as we try and are doing our best, surely that's what is important:)

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  2. Whew. This is something I struggle with. I can be too rigid with myself. But, I AM learning and a gentle reminder from you and Emily should help. Have a wonderful day.

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  3. Good advice, Rhonda. In living the simple life , we really do need to make sure it always feels 'simple and fun'. It is so important to be kind to yourself- last night I was cooking tea and knew I really needed to make more jam for the kids ....then I stopped and reminded myself that I had worked hard all day and my day was nearly over- I promptly popped my berries in the freezer for jam making when I wasn't snowed under and I reminded myself to not feel guilty about not being the perfect mother. We went through the organic thing too - ways around it are to grow your own food, and just find a local market gardener who cares about what they grow - but also don't feel bad if you can't - good fruit and veg is still good fruit and veg.
    Emily , your first job on your list should say say this , in big writing and must always be stuck to no matter how busy you are : BE KIND TO YOURSELF.... then everything else will fall into place.x

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    1. More wisdom here. Loved your comment Kim.
      Blessings Gail

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    2. Fantastic all you wonderful people who give great loving advice I love this blog

      Linda

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    3. Kim, wise words! I often find myself doing more baking after cooking our supper when I am really too tired for it, and after having worked hard all day too. I MUST train myself to not feel guilty for sitting and relaxing instead!

      Lyn in Northern New South Wales.

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  4. Hi
    Get Hanno to avoid tomatoes for a while. When my husband had medications which made him prone to gout it was always a nice tomato salad which set him off. And so often when we were out picnicing. He can eat them again now but for a while more than one or two was too much.
    Lizzie
    xxxx

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  5. Oh I do hope Hanno is feeling better soon.It is awful when a medication you need is the cause.
    I like the list idea. B

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  6. Lovely post as usual. I, too, tend to get down on myself when I can't be "perfect". Thank you for the lovely reminder of taking it easy.

    xxx Sabrina
    http://bbutterflybrain.blogspot.de/

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  7. My Mum always said when you're writing you list of things to do make sure you list one thing you've already done so you can cross it off. Somehow it makes the list seem more achievable if one item has already been tackled. :)

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  8. Hello Rhonda,
    Such wisdom in your writings today. I seldom get right through my list because I often put too many jobs on it . This has in the past made my feel a bit of a failure. I am moving into the mode of just doing as much as I can and allowing myself to move some jobs to the next day without the guilt. I want to enjoy my home and not be burdened by feelings of inadequacy. This then makes for joy and peace in my life and in my home.
    Thinking of you Hanno and wishing you a speedy result with the change in medication.
    Blessings Gail

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  9. Good advice, life should not be hard but it can be unpredictable.
    Merle.............

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  10. Excellent post, Rhonda. Life throws us challenges and curve balls that's for sure. It's healthier to take one day at the time and relax in the process.

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  11. Your post today really hit home for me. I'm afraid I'm quilty of trying to be perfect...Lord knows I'm not, but I'm somehow hung up on really trying to be. Heck, I even try to make my list of things to do be a perfect list!! If it isn't written just so and in the proper sequence of when things ought to be done for the day, it frustrates me and sometimes I write it more than once in the same day. Now I know it's really stupid to get frustrated over the list, but can you see that it's just the tip of the iceberg of problems if I can't even relax enough to just write down what I need to do in no particular order? It shouldn't be a major thing to write a list. I'm going to re-read today's post several more times in the hope that your words will help me learn how to be more flexible.

    Hope Hanno will be on the mend soon.

    Diane in North Carolina

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    1. Diane, instead of trying to be perfect, focus on doing your best. If you can go to bed each night knowing that, even if you didn't finish your list, you did your best, then you can be proud of your efforts. Then you can have a good night's rest and build on it tomorrow. Take care of yourself. xx

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  12. Wonderful post. I can't agree with you more about not having the pressure on ourselves. Hugs, Bobbi Jo

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  13. This is one of the hardest things for me - I think your remark about the Army really hit it on the head!

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  14. My mum was great at perfection she could not help herself she was a nurse and when at home she cleaned the floor every where ,you could eat off her floors she ironed everything even socks and got upset when she could not get something done no amount of telling her it was alright she would not listen now she sleeps with god and maybe now she is at peace

    Linda

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  15. Have enjoyed reading your blog since I've come across it a couple of years ago. Coming from an European background this way of life is natural to me, growing your own vegetables and keeping a few chooks (not that I have any now unfortunately) Being frugal, cooking, sewing etc. However, when I read this morning's post regarding one reader's advice about what foods to eat for gout I was horrified! The list that she gave is for acidic foods and that is the last thing you should eat when you have this condition. Gout is an accumulation of uric acid and hence you should be eating "alkaline foods" You can look these up. But certainly stay off tomatoes, apples, citrus and reduce red meat intake. A case of fact vs myths.

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  16. Loved this post - once again it just timed perfectly when I was starting to stress myself out by not getting EVERYTHING done each day....but I have spent a great deal of time playing cars with my little boy and I can't move that to tomorrow:)

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  17. Lists, things I will do....one was to give your book to my sister, signed by you....a surpries...on her birthday 27th November..... my sister passed away on the 13th October after finding a tumor in her bowel (9 weeks)she was the most amazing person,even going through all her jewellery for all the girls in her family she loved.... she left behind a husband, 4 children, 11 grandchildren and 5 greatgranchildren. She planned a party and her husband said the 25th November. Cupcakes and Dragon Flies are our theme. What will I do with the book.....I have my first grandaughter born on the 9th May and are thinking I should give the book to her. x

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    1. I'm so sorry to read this, Kay. What a great legacy she left behind. It sounds like she was very loved.

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  18. Sometimes just getting a day to take a long nap and enjoy a great cup of coffee is success to me.

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  19. Gee Kay. I am so sorry about your sister.

    Take care.

    Ahdgdhxjdj.

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  20. Coming in on this late, somehow I missed the post about his gout.
    I have lived with it a long time, mine started with BP meds, and years later I still have it. Colchechine (spelling?)has helped me more than any thing they ever gave me for it. It is now too expensive to buy, but it worked great for me. I tried all the remedies you mentioned & more. Drinking lots of water helps, limiting protein intake with meat, esp. helps, and not eating things like cabbage or any vegetables that produces sulfur as it is digested really helps a lot, also limiting acid based foods.
    Hope he improves.
    I need much better routines, am still working toward that goal.
    I try and set small ones every day, regular weekly ones, and routine monthly things. Most days I can accomplish the small ones, but i do need much better organization to get more accomplished.

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  21. Sound advice Rhonda. I call myself a 'recovering perfectionist' :) When I think of the big picture and all there is to do or I'd like to achieve, I can feel completely swamped and tired before I even start. I too write lists, and I am trying to approach the big picture with a series of snap shots - the smaller steps to get to where I'm going.

    I'm trying to enjoy the journey rather than focus on the destination.

    Healing vibes to Hanno.

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  22. best wishes to Hanno, hope his troubles clear up soon. On 'to do' lists, I read somewhere, (it might even have been you Rhonda) that you should put no more than four items on your daily list, that way you have some chance of achieving them that day, rather than having a huge list which goes on and on and takes days to do complete. I've started doing this and it works!

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  23. Thank you, Rhonda, for this reminder. I'm going through a big transition now and find myself frustrated that my routines aren't what they used to be. The truth is I need to just ride out the transition and stop fighting it - one day at a time, adjusting my expectations of myself daily. Once we are settled on the other side, I'm sure my usual routines will pick back up where they left off. I just prefer it when things hum along at a familiar pace day in and day out, but that's not real life now is it?!

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  24. I've just got round to reading your blog today and your post is just what I needed to hear so 'thank you'. This year has been horrible for us for one reason or another but on the other hand we have had some real 'highs' too. However, I have just come back from seeing my old friend who has had an ongoing battle with a brain tumour and she is now confined to a wheelchair, as she has lost the use of the right side of her body. I have agreed to sit with her one day a week and pop in whenever I can. I'm not sure how I can fit this into my daily schedule and I have been beginning to panick about it, but your post has made me feel better.
    My friend means the world to me so I know that she must come first and everything else must fit around her.

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  25. I found when I lay in bed at night, my mind would start to race about all the things I didn't get done and therefore what I would have to do the next day. Sometimes it was the same old skeletons racing around that usually revolved around work. I would write my to do list in my head and then go over it and over it trying to remember all the items.

    So rather than fret about what I hadn't done and how I was possibly going to fit it in the next day, I started to focus on what I had achieved and that usually brought a smile to my face. I started to sleep better too because my mind was more at peace when I did drift off. I think this shift in attitude has helped me live in the moment a little more rather than trying to anticipate how tomorrow is going to pan out.

    And if all else fails, I once heard these pearls of wisdom... put "eat chocolate" on your to do list every day, at least you'll be able to tick off one item!

    I always can...

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  26. I used to be a list writer but it went by the wayside since Violet was born. But on Monday, I wrote a list to try and be a little more organized for the day. Things like clean the pantry and spare room along with doing the dishes, making the bed etc. Perhaps a little too ambitious for one day! But I kept the list and managed to get all jobs ticked off by Thursday. I'm happy with two big jobs done, and think a new list every week would be a good thing around here. Thanks for the reminder that we can change the rules as we go.

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  27. Hi Rhonda, great post as usual.
    I have a question for you please.
    I have been asked to run a craft class for the U3A here next year.
    I have said yes because I think I can do it and will enjoy it and it may lead to more opportunity for me. I have some projects lined up but want the group to be a friendly relaxed group, not too regimented. I am asking that people bring along any UFOs or new projects they need help with.
    Do you have any tips, guidelines or pointers for me to help me get started, I am nervous about it and feel sure you can help me.
    thanks
    Dayla

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    1. I have your email Dayla. I'll be in touch next week.

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  28. I keep two lists, one of the small stuff to hopefully get done that day, and a list of bigger things to be done when I get to them. On the big list is the things like clean the pantry ,or wash the walls in the kitchen etc.
    But I have scheduled in time to help neighbors , to take the fixings for tea. To drive them to town, and you know what? My work waits for me, and thats OK. I enjoy my visits because we never know how long we will be able to help.
    Now it is my time to need a small amount of help and I sure do appreciate the time others spare for me . Please be kind judging yourself we're all in this together.

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  29. Thank you for this post - I frequently beat myself up when I don't achieve my simple living goals. Reading this has showed me that it's ok to give myself a break and be a bit more flexible x

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  30. I was on Norvasc and a diuretic and had gout for the first time in my life. I read in the Harvard Health Newsletter that the the diuretic could cause gout, so with the doctor's knowledge I went off of it. Within a week, I was virtually pain free and my blood pressure is lower without the diuretic! 120/70. Best of luck.

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  31. What a timely post this is for me!

    I am a WAHM of 1 very active 18mth old daughter and am running a blog with its own product line as well as a nappy service in Sydney plus I am studying Naturopathy full time.

    I am totally committed to this life, being eco and simple but sometimes I don't do so well at it; like today - blew the grocery budget sky high. I felt terrible because we need to pull back on expenses but I still blew the budget.

    I have a schedule for everything yet there is a lot to do and I sometimes think I will never get there, I will always feel stressed and I will never stay in a peaceful place through all the simplifying I am doing. It certainly feeds my soul and without a simpler life grounding me I am sure I would be lost.

    Some of my readers comment on my blog about my supposedly 'perfect life' and I sigh and think 'You have no idea how un-perfect my life is...' Does it become habitual and easirr as time goes by? Or is there always more things to add on that build the pressure?

    Thanks Rhonda - great post. xxoo

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