Like the fact that you put on earrings today. Yup, I noticed.
When you rested your hand gently on your friend’s shoulder. Yup, she felt it.
That extra $2 you added to the tip just because. Yup, noted.
All those diapers you changed, the accounts you reconciled, the phone calls you answered. Each one of those tiny things you do adds up to a life lived.
It’s the little choices you make. Saying “I’m going to do X” instead of “I have to do X.” Putting flowers on the table even if you’re the only one there to see them.
Those little choices shape the trajectory of your whole life.
This morning, I went for a run. A mostly-walking puny run, but still.
On Monday, I met with my accountant.
Before I sat down to write this missive, I gave this room a quick tidy. I picked up a dozen little horses, a garlic press, and stacks of tissues. I think the tissues were beds for the horses. The garlic press is a mystery.
Yesterday I entered all my purchases into YNAB, my budgeting software, just like I did all the days before that, and just like I will today heaven help me.
Sometimes it seems like my life is made up of prosaic chores.
So many of the things that make my life beautiful aren’t beautiful in and of themselves.
For example, even though I like my accountant very much, I hate all the number-crunching he makes me do.
Even though I like my kitchen, I don’t particularly enjoy cooking or cleaning up meals in it.
And even though I adore my daughter, I really don’t like making her lunches or helping her with her homework.
But I do them anyway, because that sort of unsexy maintenance yields the things I want.
In The Queen Sweep right now, the beauteous ones are cleaning up the messes in their homes.
This is not glamorous work. It involves mess, and humility, and sometimes tearing your hair out. But it yields joy. Beauty. Order. Serenity.
I used to resist phrases like ‘discipline’ or ‘the slight edge’ or ‘taking responsibility’ because it felt so punitive. It just reminded me that I had all these horrible, mortifying, irretrievable flaws that needed to be fixed. I embarked on all my virtuous attempts out of a desperate hope that I could make myself ‘okay,’ pass, be invisible.
Fuck that shit.
Now I do them for one reason only. For joy.
I am a shameless glutton for joy, for beauty, and for laughter. And so even the unromantic parts of my life take on a little humble glow. Because they’re all about creating beauty.
The little things you do, they matter.
Different things come easily to different people. Maybe you were born just automatically knowing how to organize things, or motivate people with stories, or make things beautiful. Or you have an innate sense of how things fit together, or you can see patterns where no one else can, or you know how to hear what’s underneath what people are saying.
But some parts of your life probably don’t come so easily.
One of my good friends, she has an innate sense of money. She just doesn’t have to think about budgeting very much, because if she spends more one month, she inherently knows she has to spend less the next.
Me, I do not have this sense. At all. Not even a little.
I must have been an empress in a former life. I can spend myself into credit card debt without even blinking, and then be really surprised when the bills come.
So I require all sorts of systems and support to keep the money part of my life humming smoothly. I have an accountant, a bookkeeper, a financial advisor, and on top of that I use this system called YNAB that requires me to track–down to a gnat’s ass!–every single bit of my spending. Sometimes I hate it. But I keep at it, because this is what I need in order to have beauty and clarity in this part of my life.
On the other hand, I have a really easy and loving relationship with my health. I eat when I’m hungry, I sleep when I’m tired, and I love my own physical self, even the bits that are looking a bit middle-aged. I hardly ever get sick and I don’t even take vitamins. I started exercising recently, even though I don’t like it, because I just weirdly wanted to.
My friend who’s so good with money has to think about her health a lot more than I do. She has to carefully watch what she eats, and she has the same kind of extraordinary support team for her health that I have for my finances.
So we all have parts of our lives that require careful tending, and others that only need us to gaze at them with immense gratitude.
So. What small things would make the biggest impact for you today? This week? This year?
What one small habit, if you started it today, would revolutionize your life if you kept at it?
Now what if you went and did it just for today?
Magic. It’s in the little things.