what we do every day

What we do every day matters more than what we do once in a while. – Gretchen Rubin

If this blog has a theme (and it doesn’t, as I’ve established), it would likely be wonder, but close behind that is a preoccupation with daily-ness, with the small activities, thoughts, and emotions that make up our days and therefore our lives.  I think at least daily of the quote that last year’s family holiday card featured: “How we spend our days, is, in fact, how we spend our lives.” – Annie Dillard

Or of the salient reminder that  “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” (I’ve seen this ascribed to Aristotle, Cicero, and others, so I’m not sure precisely who to attribute it to).

I also like the Gretchen Rubin’s assertion of the importance of what we do every day. So I’ve been thinking about what I do every (or most) day(s).  And, conversely, what I rarely do.  Just as I think we can look at a week or a month of our lives and view our time allocation as a map of what matters to us, I think we can draw conclusions about what we care about through looking carefully at what we do (and do not) do regularly.

Every day I read, most days I exercise, every day I work, every day I spend time with Matt, Grace, and Whit, most days I text or email with a small circle of dear friends and family. Every day I brush my teeth, every day I change into pajamas at the earliest opportunity (sometimes in the morning if I’m working at home), most days I cook for my family, most days I do laundry. Most days I take pictures of the sky, some days at sunset.

Rarely I go out, rarely I talk on the phone for personal reasons (though I do all day for work), rarely I watch TV

What do these small, mundane acts say about my priorities?  I think they say my family, my work, and our home comes first.  I think they say that I’m an introvert who prefers my pajamas to a night out.  I think they say sometimes I need to work harder to get exposure to the wide world out there.

I’m comfortable with what my priorities look like when I stare in the mirror, when I map out what I do every day, how I spend my days, how I spend my life. Far from perfect, but entirely aligned with my values.

What do you do every day, and what do you do rarely?  Do you like what these answers say about what you value?

5 thoughts on “what we do every day”

  1. Lindsay,
    I miss you being in my inbox! It is such a thrill when I see your name — I feel as though your words are so often in sync with what is on my heart. My days are filled with much the same as yours: my work, my home, my family. My daily family activities have changed in last few months, not to my choosing, so I find myself trying to redefine myself daily through the small choices I make. I am learning to take care of myself in a way I pushed aside for many years while raising my children. Now, I exercise, I meditate, I cook, I love my husband and my furbabies, and I love my reading and soul nurturing time at the end of my day when I know I have shown up for all those I love. I have said this to you before, please know you make a difference for me in all you share about you. I had tears and my heart ached as Grace began her new adventure — you wrote so eloquently about it all. You are a blessing to me!

  2. “Excellence is an art won by training and habituation: we not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but rather have these because we have acted rightly; these virtues are formed in man by doing his actions; we are we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”
    – Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy (1926)

    He was writing about Aristotle for what it’s worth. 🙂

    Everyday I try to have some protein for breakfast (usually a protein bar) and a no calorie energy drink (probably killing me and/or my memory). On weekdays, I rise at 5 and am out the door before 6. I feed the cat before (or sometimes after) she starts knocking things off dressers. At work I check some email when I arrive, do some scripture reading/meditation. Then I try to create web application beauty uninterrupted for a few hours. We have a quick daily status stand-up meeting at 10:30. Then I eat an early lunch, usually some leftovers from home; once a week Chipotle. Always another no calorie energy drink (definitely killing me and/or my memory). Finish my work day with any administrative tasks or some additional developement work and home just after 3 when the kids get home. Help them prioritize homework and oversee / explain anything that needs it. Running 3 to 7 miles happens in this time every third day. Dinner and any kid activity driving in the evening. Wind down toward kid bed time around 9. TV time/talking with wife or perhaps some video gaming (not with wife). Sleep by 11 on a good night.

    I rarely sleep in, but depending on weekend schedule I might get to one of the days.

    I feel okay about it all I guess. It’s this season of life.

  3. I love this – maybe I need to write a post of my own on this topic. Every day I drink tea, read, spend time with my husband, text a couple of dear friends. Most days I exercise, text my close family members, work, write, cook, do laundry. How we spend our days is how we spend our lives, indeed. xo

  4. I’d completely forgotten about that line by Gretchen Rubin. Feels like forever ago that I read her books. I should flip back through them again.

    As for what I do every day: walk my dog early and in the dark, eat breakfast with my kids, floss, work, read the news and try not to obsess over it, and fuss about my weight. Most days I post something about my kids to Instagram, exercise, read fiction, and get in bed on time.

    There are things I wish were on that list, but I think I’m mostly happy with it.

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