Seven Habits of People Living


1. Make the entry way of your home beautiful and practical. A candid picture of your family, hanging dried herbs of many colors and aromas, the walls a warm tone, and a boot brush.

2. Go outside every day, multiple times a day, at inconvenient times, and during thunderstorms. Reasons to stay inside are: a salesman is at the door or you are under quarantine. Strong reasons to go outside are: your head hurts, your heart hurts, or it seems gloomy outside. Outside is always brighter than inside. I'm repeatedly surprised by this fact.

I hoped my son and I would 'get out of the house today.'

We made it to the car. I carried lighter layers for the warm afternoon, a diaper bag, a thermos of oatmeal, a water bottle, a sack containing egg cartons and bread for the neighbor.

I realized I forgot my hat (I later found it in the car) in the house. Back inside. Found a hat. Back outside. Tried to put Beren in the carseat. No go.

My son, after enduring a long trip to NYC's Chinatown for the Lunar New Year on Sunday, has not been excited about car trips. We played around inside the car, pushing buttons, and climbing around. I decided to wait until he seemed to be relaxed, which never happened. I tried to put him in the seat again. No go. Tried nursing him. Moderate interest. Car was more interesting. Played more. Peeked in diaper. Soiled.

Back inside. Cranky diaper change. Back outside. I tried to put him in the seat again. No go.

I surrendered. I did Eight Brocades of Qigong while my son played in the driveway. He stomped in puddles. We tossed stones. We meandered. We sat in the wetlands garden and ate salt free corn chips and banana. We wandered through the yard and sat in the woods until my son crawled into my lap, nursed and dozed off. The sun was warm.

I'm sure my son will remember this day fondly as The Day My Crazy Parents Insisted It Was Brighter Outside.

3. Seek the proper tool that is a mere dozen steps away rather than the one in your hands. It is better to use a box cutter than a $60 pair of Felco clippers to cut a package from UPS open. It is better to dirty another cooking utensil than lose yet another too-short dessert fork in the batter.

Wire cutters, $12 plus tax well spent.

4. Take a break. I come from stubborn stock. I've seen enough home improvement projects go awry. Enough said.

Take time to do the small things. 

5. Realize not everything gets done in one day. How I wish it did - from drawing polygon shapes around invasive species on my preserves in ArcGIS to housework (See 1. "boot brush") to establishing the family's ten year plan.

When seeking work in Philadelphia years ago, I answered #5 to one of those interview questions: "What did you learn from your previous job?" the three women interviewing me asked. Desperate for work and surrounded by over-worked non-profit employees in a cinder block building, I answered, "My last job was very busy, high stress. I realized not everything gets done in a day. Somethings just don't get done. There's always tomorrow."

I suppose I was there for free therapy, not a job. I was not called back.

Accountability and Modern Piece Work. Jorge Vasquez probably works fairly hard and very quickly. If his bags are crooked because he naps on the job, the whole factory knows. There's always ten thousand more bags tomorrow.

6. Say 'no' when it really counts. Fortunately, 'no' can be said in thousands of creative ways. They range from: "Are you f***ing crazy?" to "I'll think about it." to "Let's work with these suggestions and incorporate these additional ideas." to "I didn't hear you."

7. Know when enough is enough. Lunchtime.