I've already noticed changes three weeks into my year of black and white photos, and it goes beyond the photos themselves. They seem to be acting as symbols for facets of life itself.
I'm becoming more visually aware.
I look for opportunities that are from a different angle or there might be something unique about them. The picture I'm featuring this week doesn't have anything unique about it on the surface. I'm taking notes at a staff meeting.
Then I noticed the sunlight streaming through the window behind me and how it highlighted my water bottle (featured in Week #1). If I had set it a few inches to the left or right, it would have been just out of reach of the sun's rays. But as it stood, the point of visual contact was mesmerizing to me and so I took the photo. (Please don't ask me what was going on in the meeting at that moment, oops.)
I'm noticing more photo opportunities I would have previously ignored. Routine views I see everyday are beginning to take on more meaning. The insignificant is becoming significant. I'm beginning to see it in other areas of my life as well. The mundane is starting to take on more meaning.
Items pop out that surprise me.
Sure the contrast of the pen to the notebook would have been noticeable in a color photo. The black and white makes it pop more substantially though. It's the first item I notice after the sunlight streaming in. Because of it, my attention gets drawn to the writing in the notebook itself.
I'm letting myself be more surprised by life itself. I'm more present in the small moments. It's in the minutiae that something happens, and I wouldn't have given them a second thought previously.
The background is no longer just the background.
If this was a color photo, I would have paid no attention to what was going on behind the items in the foreground. This has been the most profound part of this experiment so far. I see the background more often now. I see the details, right down to the electrical outlets beneath the screen.
I'm trying to do a better job of this in my life. What I see as background is significant to someone else, and I'm tuning in instead of dismissing it or only being partially there. I'm making it a priority to stay in that specific moment of time. While it doesn't always happen, I'm a work in progress.
But I am making progress.
Sunday night is a great night to reflect upon all that is good in our world. Here's my list:
1. I'm so thankful for all the men and women who have sacrificed and have served our country proudly. Not just on Veterans' Day but every day.
2. I hit 84 straight days of guided meditation using the Calm app. I can tell a difference.
3. My daughter and son-in-law celebrated their one year anniversary today.
4. Going to a luncheon at church gave us the opportunity to get to know our new pastor and her husband better.
5. Good health is something never to take for granted.
6. Singing and dancing in our house just reassures my husband and me why we are still so right for each other after 28 years of marriage.
7. Being more observant as a result of my year of black and white photos has been enlightening.
8. My mom and stepdad sent a selfie to me from the Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant concert last night (the concert was a combined birthday present for them). It was a gift to me to get that picture from them smiling from ear to ear.
9. The Geico sloth commercial makes me laugh every single time.
10. I don't mind that people are putting up their holiday decorations as long as that festive spirit lasts all year long.
Everyday Life Uncluttered: #Week 2 - Why I Don't Make Everyday Count, but I'm Committed To Doing Better
Sometimes I make part of the day count. I get complacent and lazy and I let the day get completely away from me, but I have really good intentions.
Those intentions don't control the day though. I do, but man, it's hard work. Making everyday count is a commitment, and I am on the struggle bus more often than not.
I get lost in social media. I start reading articles instead of getting my butt in the chair to write. I watch one episode of The Office on Netflix, which inevitably turns into two or three. What was I supposed to be doing? Oh yeah, laundry, or the dishes, or some other chore I have now put off until tomorrow again.
So, how do I go about doing a better job of making everyday count from beginning to end?
It starts with a schedule. Blocking out the entire day from beginning to end. Sure, things are going to come up or I might get pulled away to something I can't control. However, when the day is scheduled from the time I get up to the time I go to bed, I have a fighting chance.
The next step though is the hardest. It's following said schedule. So far today, I'm kicking its ass and it feels good. No, it feels freaking fantastic! And here's why:
1. Last night I gave myself time to plan out the day.
2. I wrote in the appointments I had scheduled, and then I wrote down how I was going to fill in the time between the scheduled activities.
3. I accounted for every minute. I included when I would check email, eat lunch, and driving time to my chiropractor.
4. Every minute has been accounted for until I go to bed tonight.
5. My planner stayed open by my side all day long. I wrote in it when I had to make a schedule change or if I had something come up I needed to do that I had forgotten.
6. After dinner, I was tempted to watch Netflix, but then I remembered to look at my schedule to see what I had planned next.
And writing was my next scheduled block of time, so here I am.
Has today been easy since I had a plan in place?
I would love to say yes, but that's such a lie.
There were times I wanted to check email like I usually do throughout the day. I could have skipped an optional meeting with a student, but since I had it in my planner I honored the commitment. While the chunk of time I had for lesson planning for classroom counseling lessons didn't quite happen, I was doing it to get ahead and I had forgotten a couple of items I needed to get done sooner. So, I cut myself a break and did them.
Even though it was a challenge, I really felt like my focus was laser-like today. I didn't let myself get complacent. I didn't allow myself to be lazy. I made today count, but I need to make it a habit. Discipline and willpower only last so long before we run out of them, but habits are forever.
I can do better. I will do better.
Motivational speaker Jim Rohn once said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.
Take a moment to let that sink in.
If you were going to make a list of those five people who would they be?
Once you figure that out, now think about what they bring to the table. Seriously, think about a table with six chairs around it. You're sitting in one of the chairs and you are surrounded with the five people you spend the most time with.
Does this excite you or scare you?
If you're excited, it means you are hanging with people who are positive, motivated, and push you to do your best. They are your biggest supporters but aren't afraid to offer you some constructive criticism if it's what you need to keep moving forward. They aren't going to hold you back from chasing your dreams, and they will be there to catch you when you fall. They influence you in a way that makes you want to do better and you don't just think but act because you don't want to be the weak link sitting at this figurative table.
If the thought of the five people you're with scares you, then YIKES! Get away from the table as fast as you can. Figure out why you're at the table with these people who are negative, bring you down, and are kings and queens of drama. They tell you not to do things, because they don't want you to outgrow them. They talk behind other people's backs and you fall into doing it with them. But beware, because when you're not with them then they are more than likely talking behind yours.
It's important to take stock of who you spend the most time with and how they influence you. Maybe it's time to let some of them go in favor of adding others who will add to your life rather than take away from it.
Sometimes you need to let those who are taking up space at the table that it's time for them to go. Dinner is over.
As I celebrated a half century of life last week, I thought about what I could do to slow down and take in all that life has to offer. The first 50 years have been a blur in some ways.
So, I've decided to post one black and white photo a day on Twitter (@gettoit11) and Instagram (shedenk11) for the next year. These pictures will not be of people but rather items of importance, scenery, and experiences. Feel free to follow me if you would like to see the daily photo.
When I look at color photos, I just glance over them. But when I look at a black and white photo...well, it's just a completely different perspective. I see details more clearly. I take the time to really see what is there.
Each week I will choose one photo as a focal point for a blog post. My S'well bottle gets the first honor. This bottle represents the only water bottle I own. I used to have several of them, but this has been my staple for well over a year. I got rid of the rest of them. It also serves a dual purpose. Not only does it keep my water cold but it also keeps my coffee hot. I use it as a thermos in the morning and when I'm done with my coffee I switch over to water.
In addition to being functional, I love the design. It represents the mountains, and when I think about mountains I think about Colorado. I love to visit whenever I can, because it is the epitome of peace for me.
Even though you can't see the bottom of the bottle, if you could you would see the writing is pretty much worn off and it has several dings in it. That's how you know it gets used over and over and over again.
This bottle also represents my journey toward minimalism. How many bottles do I need when this one takes care of both hot and cold beverages on my travels? If you guessed one, you're right.
I'm a lover of life, an eternal optimist, and I have an intense desire to add value through simple living and positive vibes.