Monday, January 28, 2013

Today Matters

Last fall, I decided to give my journal writing more direction by using a study guide as a starting point. The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth was so useful that I chose another of John Maxwell's books - Today Matters: 12 Daily Practices to Ensure Tomorrow's Success - to work through next. The premise behind this book is that the most important day is today and that to make the most out of today, which in turn leads to tomorrow's success, it's best to make decisions about key areas in life - such as attitude, priorities, values, finances - twelve of them - once and then live into those decisions on a daily basis.

William Gladstone is quoted in the chapter on priorities as saying - He is a wise man who wastes no energy on pursuits for which he is not fitted; and he is wiser still who from among the things he can do well, chooses and resolutely follows the best. My immediate reaction was how nice for him and who gets to do everything else?

It became clear as I read this chapter that it's written from a business perspective, for a man in a career with a wife at home doing all the things he'd rather not do. The chapter, in my opinion, over-simplifies and fails to address potential conflicts between individuals that have the same priorities but live them out differently. Because it's written from a business perspective, by the head of a company, his solution to incompatible individuals is to fire them. For a stay-at-home Mom - and in many other roles - firing the opposition is rarely an option. LOL - can you imagine?

Further in the chapter, the author, John Maxwell, writes if you're over age twenty-one, your life is what you're making of it. To change your life, you need to change your priorities. That statement totally annoyed me because wrapped up in some people's priorities is a whole lot of drudgery and that sentiment is too simplistic for the scope and impact of many priority based decisions.

After my faith, my first priority has always been my family, and I'm pretty sure that the author is NOT going to say that faith and family are wrong choices. There's a disconnect in our perspectives most likely because I am not the intended audience for this material. That said, whenever you're angered by something it's an opportunity ask why because there's a little niggle trying to talk to you. In this case, it lead to a good discussion about what we say our priorities are and what our actions prove our priorities to truly be. That's an interesting thought to ponder; an action changer if you let it be.

Later in the same chapter, the author asks .... will you take complete responsibility for how you spend your time, take control of the things you can, and make today yours? The key words being of the things you can. He asks three questions - what is required, what gives the greatest return, and what gives the greatest reward. The defining line between return and reward appears to relate to money. It wasn't entirely clear to me.

He goes on to say that many people are not successful because they focus too much on what is rewarding and not enough on what is required. I would argue that most women are focused too much on what's required and not enough on what's rewarding. Women tend to put everyone but themselves first to the detriment of their own energy, health, and self-development. I saw this time and again with my students when I was teaching and with my friends, especially when our children were very young. Caroline and I were the only two to take a yearly vacation, separate from the family - in our case a sewcation - and she came because I invited her and organized the event.

In most families, if someone is going to go without, it's typically the mother. Women will make sure that Joey and Billy and Sally get to hockey and painting and piano every week, without fail, even though the odds are heavily stacked that Joey and Billy and Sally are NOT the next Gretzky, Rembrandt, or Beethoven but the same woman can't find an hour a week in the studio or some time to read or an evening for coffee with a friend. It's a soap box issue for me. I'm a HUGE advocate of self care and as I look at the questions swirling at this time in my life, I am VERY grateful that it's a precedent I've already developed.

Working through the study questions around priorities, I've been thinking about the three requirement, return, and reward questions, about how life looks currently, about possible new directions, and about taking control of the things I can control. This decade - of my fifties - more than any other decade - is MY decade and my priorities need to be reshaped and shifted to take on new dimensions and expressions that are more heavily weighted toward my self care and my growth. It sounds selfish and I don't believe it is. Rather, I think it's the natural ebb and flow of a woman's life, especially the life of a stay-at-home Mom whose children are now adults. I believe that letting this chance to invest more solidly in me go past without investment would be a tremendous loss.

Knitting is a fabulous way to curl up on the couch in front of the fire and think. With this scarf, I cast on 34 stitches, knit five rows of garter stitch, knit in pattern until the end, knit five more rows of garter stitch, and cast off. Knitting in pattern until the end gives you LOTS of time to think.

The scarf is for a friend's birthday. It's long - as long as my dining room table - and will wrap around her neck twice and tie nicely. The yarn is a silk blend with a luscious feel. It should will make a lovely gift. I'll give it to her at lunch today. I'm making roasted garlic potato with salmon soup, biscuits, and a quinoa chocolate cake. YUMMY!

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - processing time, priorities


  1. It's beautiful! And I completely agree with you that women need to be the advocates of their own self care. It's not selfish, it's self-possessed.

    1. Thanks.

      Self-care - absolutely essential in my case or someone will be firing the wife. Keeps me from getting too crabby, especially studio time.

  2. Kudos to you for seeing the holes in this author's point of view. If you are an adult and have an exciting and successful career and then someone in your family gets sick (or you have a child with a disability, or you get sick yourself, or...), you can find yourself no longer in control of your own priorities in a hurry.

    On the other hand, I can identify, even within my sewing, ways in which I seek out "rewarding" over "return". If I were keeping my eye on return, I'd be sewing up some more casual pants rather than the tailored dress from a 1942 Du Barry pattern that I am actually working on right now.

    1. Exactly - and sometimes you voluntarily leave that career because family is your priority and even so, it's difficult. Motherhood is the hardest job on earth. Definitely, there are way too many scenarios for such a broad statement.

      Isn't sewing interesting? For me, it's primarily entertainment; how I think and even then there's this tug-of-war between practical and wearable and creative, challenging, out-there, more interesting. My constant struggle is to balance and blend the two. I have a feeling I'm never going to find the balance point. It feels like I revisit this idea all the time.

  3. Absolutely agree! (BTW, I loved the line "firing the opposition is rarely an option", gave me a great belly laugh when I think of my kids!!) As someone who was a career professional before kids, I found motherhood a huge challenge. Making the time for myself, and feeling in control has taken some adjustment. It's interesting to look at things in terms of required, reward and return.

    1. LOL - there were days when it'd have been so much easier to point a figure at the kid - or the husband - and say you're fired.

      Both jobs are challenging. Careers have more immediate feedback. Children are a long-term investment. It's important to reward and energize ourselves along the way... especially as it turns out to be 24/7/365 for the rest of your life, just shifting in presentation.

  4. You make so many great points. Women so often put them selves second. What pisses me off is watching couples where it seems the guys can go out for gaming or a concert or watch a movie, but I don't hear their wives going out the same way. Sometimes it's because no one says "and what would you like to do?" but some husbands try to push them out to do something (or stay in and do something like your studio time) and they won't. Why do so many women feel the need to be a martyr?

    1. Women appear to have a subconscious belief that to nurture their own interests is to take time away from their husband and children and that by doing so, they are selfish and not a good wife or a good mother. As if one person's sole role is to make sure that everyone else - but themselves - has a wonderful life. IMHO - stupid...

      ... and a terrible role model. I want my husband and my children to nurture their own interests and I want them to want me to nurture mine. Individuality is what makes us interesting.

      I know of one man, a doctor - presumably with female patients - who claims he works hard all day and his wife is "just" home with the children and doesn't need a break to go out in the evening or away for a weekend. He, on the other hand, has several weekly evening events and goes away on weekends with the guys. Hmm...

      Having a daughter, I was particulary aware of role modeling. She's amazingly talented and I want her to realize that to express and develop those talents is her right. With balance. Life is always about balance.

      What's interesting is that if women would just schedule a reasonable amount of time for themselves on a regular basis they'd find out quite quickly that it's highly beneficial and completely doable. It gives us energy. It's good.


Thanks for commenting. I appreciate the feedback and the creative conversation.