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Life Rewards

Life Rewards

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    I’ve been thinking a lot about taking time to enjoy. It’s so easy to get buried with all the “to do” lists and postponing the things that really bring joy. I’m not the only one thinking about this. Pick up any magazine and you’ll find articles about what to do to increase joy. Marie Kondo’s “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” is hugely popular right now. Here’s the thing, while I agree that decluttering and tidying can increase joy, I can’t get down with looking at every item in my house and considering if it “sparks joy.” Can I get rid of the big stack of magazines that have piled up? Sure. I bet that might even lighten my mood by doing so. But will it really spark joy to tackle these types of chores? I’m not convinced. I spend so much time tidying my home only to have it get messed up again. Often I put these chores ahead of more enjoyable activities and at the end of the day, I’m not feeling the joy.

    Maggie started puppy school a month or so ago and one of the things we talk about are “life rewards.” Basically, you start training your puppy with actual food treats but then you start to replace the food with life rewards. One of the assignments was to make a list of things our puppy loves that are not food, i.e. belly rubs, walks, playing fetch. Oh, to be a dog! Such a simplicity to life. It got me thinking, what are my life rewards? You know what? I’m just as easily satisfied as Maggie! My greatest life rewards are spending time with friends and family, gardening, going for walks, and enjoying food & drink. I decided at the beginning of the month to narrow in on a couple of activities that bring joy. These activities are walking our new puppy and reading with my kids. Ha, were you hoping for something deeper? It’s funny because these are two activities that seem so simple but they are easily put off. They don’t seem to take much time but they take just enough to make you say, “we’ll get to that after…” I have made it a point to walk Maggie every morning, rain or shine. It doesn’t matter if I plan to work in the yard or clean the kitchen. Taking time out in the morning for this walk matters to both of us. She, of course, needs the exercise. I also need the exercise but I am finding that I get a lot more out of this time than just steps. I get a little break to clear my mind and breathe in the fresh air. I meet new people and their dogs. I find inspiration from other gardens and challenge myself to discover new plants. I get to see the landscape change from day to day. Right now, some trees are just beginning to bud while the cherry blossoms are starting to open. The birds are active and bulbs are starting to emerge from the ground. So much of what is happening in the environment is easily missed. Often, I’ll even take the time to sit on a bench while Maggie sniffs around or chews on sticks. It’s become one of the highlights of my day.

    Reading to the kids doesn’t seem like something you’d have to focus on. When they were younger, we used to read bedtime stories every night. Yet somehow, as Gavin has gotten older and has been reading on his own, we haven’t been as consistent about reading to the kids. We get busy with after school activities, homework, and making dinner. It’s easier to just let the kids go to bed and read or look at books by themselves. Now that Olivia is learning to read, we’ve been sitting down and tackling books together in the evening. It’s been fun to hear them take turns reading aloud and they get a chance to hear me read so they learn fluency. We have to carve out time to make this happen and it’s not always easy. It’s often a debate on whether they should just get to sleep or should we take the time to read? I’m convinced that reading is the clear winner. It’s a good way to end the day and somehow rights some of the wrongs that may have occurred earlier. Parenting is hard! Some days are harder than others and leave you questioning your competence! But at the end of the day, it’s always good to snuggle up with a good story and quiet time with your kids. It leaves you feeling a little bit more fulfilled, like you’ve done something right!

    All the stuff that happens between my morning walk and tucking the kids in at night, well, some of it gets done and some doesn’t. Focusing in on these “life rewards” has been working for me. They are like little bookends to my day. Now, if I happen to get something accomplished in my garden and maybe sneak in a fabulous cocktail, well, all the better!

    (As a complete aside, one thing that does not bring me joy is aligning photos on this blog. That is a task for another day. If any of you know the secret to this in wordpress, please email me! In the meantime, enjoy the following photos of my life rewards!)


    Camelias are in full bloom now.


    Always good to stop and take in the view!
    IMG_1143 (1)

    Ornamental plums are flowering.


    My sweet Maggie, so kind to share her enthusiasm for life!

    This is a Japanese Flowering Plum that we discovered on one of our walks.


    Always nice to see your kid with a book!

    Cheers to the good life!

    March 15th, 2016 | girl has thyme | 1 Comment |

One Response and Counting...

  • Adam 03.15.2016

    Belly rubs. We should all have someone to give us belly rubs. Love ya.


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