Thursday, October 29, 2009

Five Minute Fix: Fresh Ideas

I'm sharing from the archives today. This article is all about making room for joy with the time that we have, rather than waiting for life to get easier. You can start building joy and refreshment into your life now . . .

How? By doing anything that feeds your soul, that truly refreshes you and transforms you, if only for a few minutes. Do it for 5 to 15 minutes every day you can. When you have more time, an hour or two on a weekend, during holidays or on a relaxed evening , enjoy things that last a little longer. The life of the homeschooling mom is hard. The days are long. The stresses are numerous. The demands are high. In the midst of it all, personal renewal and refreshment can seem like a low priority.

It took me a long time to appreciate the value of joy. It was hard to make room for simple pleasures. Escape, of any kind, looked like a luxury I could not afford. It was hard for me to justify it when I couldn't quite do everything that needed doing. But I found that it was a smart investment. After forgetting about all the pressures and responsibilities for a few minutes, I was fresh again and much better equipped to handle my life.

At first, I had trouble thinking of things that would bring me joy and which only lasted a few minutes. I used to scan nice magazines for ideas. If I liked a picture or an article, I tried to pull from it some possibilities to try. Eventually, I came up with a list of 5-minute, 15-minute, 30- minute, and hour long joy breaks. During the busiest years, I kept them in a drawer in the kitchen or on the side of my fridge. (Not on the front of the fridge -- too personal and might be a little embarrassing.) Silly as it seemed to keep a list, this tactic really helped me. When I was tired or stressed out, I couldn't think of anything I would enjoy. The lists were great for jogging my memory when I was completely out of any inspiration.

I eventually developed routine times of day when I would typically enjoy a break: first thing in the morning for 5 minutes with a cup of coffee, 15 minutes over lunch, 30 minutes when school ended, an hour in the evening. I did my best work when my joy breaks were focused and distinct from the rest of my life. I tried not to waste them on things that looked like a joy break, but weren't effective for me. Those activities, which refreshed other people, were time wasters: reading the newspaper (I married a news editor) ; watching TV; shopping for clothes; going to parties; phone calls; eating out at restaurants.

What refreshed me? Here are some examples:

5-10 minutes:

a really great cup of coffee on the porch, if I savor it
an inspiring piece of music (close my eyes, just listen)
watching or playing with my cat
studying a beautiful flower
a luxurious hand cream
lighting a favorite scented candle
selecting and playing classical or jazz music
looking carefully at a lovely photograph or painting
arranging my desk so that it looks nice, even decorated
looking out my bay window to see which birds I can spot
coming up with ideas and plans for longer joy breaks
making a pot of tea
eating fresh fruit in season (a bowl of berries, anyone?)
writing on a postcard to send to someone, just because

15 to 30 minutes:

a neighborhood stroll
walking through my garden and admiring my work
arranging flowers in a vase
a shower with a special, scented soap, followed by matching lotion and silky pj's
a chat with a neighbor
coffee with my husband
reading the comics (really good ones)
reading a good, thoughtful magazine article
looking at possibilities for projects that would make something lovely
scanning Netflix for movies to watch later
setting out one household decoration for the season I'm in
walking through a nearby greenhouse
shopping for stationery or cards, for a few minutes

One hour or more:

a really good movie
trip to a bookstore where I look for books I want to read
making a special treat in my kitchen, something that is pure luxury
shopping for, grinding, brewing fine coffees
stepping into one or two selective, fine boutiques
perusing antiques
going to an auction
a long walk in a pretty place, around a lake, a nice neighborhood, a park
planting flowers in pots or beds
planning for my garden
making a room look beautiful (completely frivolous type work)
buying new make-up
reading a book
reading a favorite magazine cover to cover
putting a lounge chair out in the yard, closing my eyes, and listening and breathing the air
sitting on my porch, watching the world go by
a long chat with a special friend
taking my journal to a coffee shop
planning for or dreaming of places I'd like to travel to
a bubble bath

Okay, now it's your turn. What brings you joy?


  1. What wonderful ideas, I will be including a few of them on my own list. :)

    Cassandra I came by today to let you know that I have nominated you for the 'Lovely Lady, Lovely Blog Award', I do hope you will come by and accept it, you are very deserving. :)

  2. Shock and "Aw!" on Apple Pie today, Shawntele.

    Of course, I accept. I'll be right over.

  3. Way Cool!!! Congratulations! :-)

  4. I have so many things that bring me joy but I am guilty of not making the time! This is an amazing post and I think it is just what I need to get off my butt and make a couple of positive changes this weekend!


I love to receive comments from my readers, since you are the ones I am writing for! Please feel free to leave one.