Well. That was quite a weekend. It’s Monday and I’m ready for Friday and a good long nap. More about recent events – some fun, some funny, and some frustrating – later in the week. But, today, let’s chat about demerits and gold stars.
Listeners of Gretchen Rubin + Elizabeth Craft’s podcast Happier will be familiar with their weekly segment that involves sharing demerits and gold stars.
I’ve always enjoyed this section of the program because it seems so…relatable. But one thing has consistently frustrated/puzzled me: they always apply demerits personally and award gold stars externally. This failure to acknowledge positive momentum in their own lives is something I’ve never fully understood. In addition to being motivated to tackle “demerits” by giving them a name, I tend to learn just as much from the positive reinforcement of gold stars.
This got me thinking about recent demerits/gold stars in my own life. So, without further ado…
- Not going to the dentist. I don’t actually mind going to the dentist, but hate the bill. That alone is primarily responsible for my inertia, especially since I know most of the time there is nothing that needs to be done and a cleaning is…expensive. But it has been over a year and one of my remaining wisdom teeth has started to poke through. I need to put on my adult undies and just make an appointment. [Update: I’ve made an appointment but, whomp, whomp, couldn’t get in until June.]
- Not snuggling with the kids for 5 minutes at night. I was on such a good roll with this habit and then…stopped. This coincided with John starting his sabbatical which meant, for the first time in years, night after night someone else was available to handle, or at least share, bedtime. But I really enjoy this special time with the kids. Want to hear one of my (ridiculous) excuses for this behaviour? I’ve been taking my watch off earlier in the evening, which means I don’t have a timer strapped to my wrist. And that 5-minute timer was a big motivator for me to carve out the space for post-bedtime snuggles (having a limit makes it feel more manageable because the kids want me to stay for approximately forever when I come to snuggle).
- Eating too much dairy. I haven’t been eating that much dairy, but every time I succumb to a slice of cheese (I don’t even like cheese that much) or put a splash of cream in my coffee, I end up paying for it later. It seems to trigger allergy symptoms (sore/itchy throat, itchy eyes), and it’s never worth it. Sigh. Thankfully, butter doesn’t seem to have any impact, and I continue to enjoy butter on my favourite muffins daily.
- Not drinking enough water. For YEARS I consumed huge quantities of water, but recently this has really dropped off. Some of it, I think, is the fact I’ve been trying to avoid bathroom breaks at night. I have a very large (~12oz+ of water) mug of tea early in the morning and drink several Yeti Ramblers full of water, but it’s still a lot less than I used to drink.
- Taking so long to switch my watch band. I adore my magnetic watch band – being able to specifically dictate the fit on my wrist is wonderful. But, over time, the metal edges started to catch on my sweaters and jacket. Constantly. After living with this issue for over 6 months, I finally switched the strap (gold star?). But the left-hand cuff of my pink puffer coat will never look the same.
- Going to bed with mascara on. I rarely do this, but then did it THREE times over the course of a week. It felt icky in the morning and it irritated my skin. I know better. Sigh.
- Not buying new sneakers. Mine have carried me far more than the 500 recommended miles and I can tell they need to be swapped out for a new pair. But, oh, how I hate sneaker shopping. Just because I find a pair that fits in the store doesn’t mean they’ll be comfortable long-term. And there are also just too many brands and features. On a related demerit, I really should try using my orthotics again. I have a pair sitting in the closet. I never liked wearing them, but they might help relieve some of my recent discomfort. [Update: I’ve now worn my orthotics for several days; time will tell if this helps.]
- Not getting a password manager. I really want/need to do this since I use approximately one million different sites that require unique logins (and some require regular password changes) and it’s a messy nightmare.
- Stalled 50th-anniversary plans. My parents are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary in August. I’ve started communications for a big photobook/memory-montage book (I put out a call for pictures/writeups from their siblings and friends), but then no one really responded and I’m, quite frankly, lacking the enthusiasm to continue (though I adore my parents and like creative projects).
- Staying on top of clothes that need to be donated/consigned/discarded. I’ve been keeping a regular pulse on what is in everyone’s closets.
- Photo organization. It’s not perfectly up to date, but I’ve been making an effort to categorize photos at the end of each month which expedites the photobook prep at year-end.
- Shutting off my iPhone at night. When I catch myself falling into a scrolling pattern at night – when I can tell it won’t be productive or fun – I have been shutting down the phone completely and it still feels liberating! I’m proud of myself for sticking with this habit.
- Cleaning up my work space at the end of the day. My office is out of the way, so leaving it cluttered and messy isn’t a big deal, but there is something so refreshing about showing up each morning to an organized space. I turn off my computer, put the pens and highlighters back into their holder, push my chair in under my desk; a minute of tidying provides a wonderfully clean slate for the next work day.
- Using Magic Bags – a lot. I know I’ve talked about this topic more than one would think possible, but my love/gratitude for Magic Bags is unending. It is a nuisance to wait the 4 minutes and 30 seconds required to heat up my two favourite bags, so I often skipped this step until bedtime. But lately, I’ve been doing it 4-5 times a day, especially while working at my desk. One goes at my feet, another into my lap and it makes life so much more pleasant (I still use the space heater, too, but having something warm touching my body is such a help) when I’m warm.
- Having a good attitude (90% of the time) for our Family Chopped Competition. More details on this Thursday, but over the weekend we divided into teams (John + Abby; Elisabeth + Levi) and cooked an elaborate 3-course meal for friends based on secret ingredients they selected. It’s a daunting prospect for me (cooking with the kids, three courses), but it ended up being a lot of fun.
- Writing in my One Line a Day journal. I have loved doing this every evening before bed. I’ve forgotten a handful of times but just caught up the following day.
- Making space for adventure. I spend a lot of time tired, but I’ve also learned that “I can be exhausted, or I can be exhausted with memories.” (And, thankfully, my energy levels have been better lately!) I’ve been carving out lots of time for rest/restoration, and then also trying to show up with a positive attitude for things like our trip to PEI. While John does much of the planning, it takes a lot of mental effort for me to be upbeat, especially if I’m worn down physically. So, gold star to me!
Your turn. Any demerits or gold stars you’re wanting to share this fine Monday?