Michelle at One Grateful Teacher is kindly hosting a weekly round-up of #Nerdlution check-in posts, so do visit her blog and check out this week’s check-ins.
Writing for 10 minutes daily in my writer’s notebook:
The first couple of days of writing again were hard. I had nothing to write about. I spent a lot of time gazing off into space. 10 minutes of writing required about 30 minutes of sitting. But then I started disciplining myself to move the pen, as I ask my students to do, and now the words are coming much more fluently.
I’m not sure how I ever get out of the habit of doing this. It has actually been really easy to find time to write. 10 minutes was just the right amount of time to attach to this challenge.
And this #nerdlution has come with an added bonus: a little bit of coffee shop time! My teaching schedule this semester has me teaching a 9:30 a.m. class, and I usually get my coffee to go so that I can get to the office early and prepare for class. I don’t feel like I have the luxury of sitting at the coffee shop for 45 minutes or an hour in the morning, as I like to do when I have afternoon classes. But 10 minutes isn’t that much of a commitment, so several mornings, I did my 10 minutes of writing at the coffee shop. With the added benefit of having something to write about! If you see me sitting across from you at the coffee shop, chances are good that I’m writing about YOU. Especially if you’re having a conversation I can eavesdrop on. I love taking notes on conversations I’m eavesdropping on.
I’m seeing a lot of benefit in the kind of reflective writing I’m also doing. I’ve been writing a lot about my older son, who is such a complex challenge to parent well. It would be easy to get frustrated with the one step forward, seventeen steps backward that I often see with him. Spending 5-7 minutes each day jotting down a few observations about him has helped me keep the good part of the challenge of parenting him firmly in mind. And as always, writing helps me discover what I’m thinking. I’ve been able to make some connections that otherwise I wouldn’t have made and adjust my parenting as a result. I know that parenting him is one of the things I am best at, but adding in a little more reflection has helped me be more intentional and even more Zen than usual with him.
Completing a daily act of kindness:
Like Michelle, I’ve gotten out of the habit of tracking these this week, and I need to be sure I write them down each day. I have washed the dishes a couple of times (I hate washing dishes, and so does everyone else in my house! It’s my older son’s daily chore, so he has benefitted from the daily act of kindness more than once) and completed some small household tasks that I usually ask my husband to do. I’ve called my mom, loaned books, sent encouraging or appreciative texts or tweets, and bought special treats for my husband and my kids. I think the daily acts of kindness might be catching, because it seems like everyone in my house has been extra thoughtful and nice to each other over the past week! My husband knows about my challenge and has also been doing more nice things than usual, though he is actually always sweet, and my son has told me he loves me (he never says this) AND told me I’m a good mom (ditto!).
Next week, I would like to try writing some notes of appreciation to some of my co-workers and maybe some of my students too.
Most days, I have completed more than one act of kindness, and I do feel like I’m happier on days when I do more. And surprisingly, this would seem to be supported by research. I was reading an article this week that one of my colleagues and I assigned in the Happiness class we’re co-teaching. In it, the researchers discovered that people were much happier when they performed 5 acts of kindness in 1 day than when they performed 5 acts of kindness over 5 days. So I think I might also try quintupling up on daily acts for the next week to see what happens. I had worried that I’m actually too curmudgeonly to think of 1 act of kindness a day, but it turns out that it’s very easy to find little things to do.
And my mother very graciously offered herself as the recipient of an act of kindness whenever I need one, so calling her on the phone counts!