Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The everyday matters

I wanted to share a really cool project which Cheryl over at Time to Craft is doing.

Inspired by a 1922 competition which invited farmer's wives to write letters to their imaginary daughters, each accompanied by a square for a patchwork quilt, Cheryl is composing a series of letters to her daughter as she builds a quilt patch by patch. I've really enjoyed her first two letters (here and here) and the thoughts they have prompted.

The discussions around wearing make up and doing homework seem to me to be about much bigger questions - being yourself, deciding who that is, laying the groundwork for your future. These are subjects as worthy of consideration at 21 or 101 as at 11. And what I particularly like about Cheryl's approach is how she uses these everyday examples.

We all choose to be who we are every day, and every day that changes slightly. On the one hand, that's fantastic. We grow and evolve and learn and change - how boring if we were all the exact same people at 50 that we were at 15 - and the decisions we make each day can inform the next day, and so on.

On the other hand, it means that it is very easy to find yourself someone you never meant to be because of little things that seem not to matter at the time. Whether that's reaching for the cookie jar (yes folks I broke my no-chocolate-cookies-streak) or allowing work to slowly erode your free time (ahem), or how you handle stress or conflict or frustration, the little decisions matter.

The little repetitive actions that we make the time to do - washing up or doing exercise or spending time with loved ones or blogging - not only reveal our priorities but reinforce them, and choosing to repeat something or avoid it changes the role it plays in our lives. I think many of us are evaluating this - if I say my family comes first, but they only get a few hours a week of my time, is that really accurate? Am I, in fact, kidding myself?

I've been thinking a lot recently at work around ethics - while we have to comply with various rules and guidelines about how we represent our clients or approach certain stakeholders (basically if we're paid by company x, we have to be open and transparent about it), I'm increasingly aware that actually my actions and my reputation are my own concern and responsibility, and while being compliant with the set requirements, even in my everyday phone calls I am considering how my own standards compare, and beginning to ensure that I satisfy my own as well as my clients' standards.

That should seem like an obvious thing to do, but it's very easy to follow the standard in place without thinking about whether it's the right one for me. And not with big gestures - I'm not speaking to the press or the President or anything - but I am realising that my every day emails and every day phone calls add up to a sum greater than the parts and I want to be damn sure I feel comfortable with what that sum looks like.

The same applies to other areas of my life. I think of myself as a simple/slow living advocate, but as my recent work habits show, that's not really accurate. I think of myself as someone healthy who takes care of herself, but I rarely excercise and eat more biscuits than I should. That doesn't mean I should beat myself up about it, but be honest with myself and try to make time for the small daily tasks that reflect and reinforce who I want to be.

So who do I want to be tomorrow? I'm not totally sure, but I think that asking the question is far more important than finding a conclusive answer.


  1. I just loved this post. We have to come into the field of ethics daily when dealing with the farm and our farm stay guests. There are always rules and regulations that we must abide by ...but the true sum of our ethics comes through on 'how it feels' . If an ethical act takes away the butterflies in my tummy then I know it was the right thing to do.And as for the biscuits and the lack of exercise.... we are all human - it is okay to raise the bar, but it also okay to go under the bar every now and then .Confession-I ate a whole family block of chocolate this week!

    1. Thanks for commenting. It's good to know I'm not the only one who periodically ducks under the bar! And with ethics - I think it's part of deciding who we are, deciding what lines we draw and where. It's interesting to hear how that plays out in different walks of life.

  2. Reading things from parents to their children always brings up such a lot of emotions for me. It makes me want to go back and start life all over again (with no ones). Sometimes it seems like that's the only way to fix everything. I know it's not possible, and I know that going forward is really the only option, but it does seem like just starting fresh would be about a hundred times simpler than trying to untangle the knot of everything that is wrong...

    I don't know who I want to be, or how to get there, and even if I did know those things I have no faith in my ability to make the small steps that would take me there. I miss school / uni for giving me a clearly defined path with clear goals. I'm not doing very well at working it out for myself.

    1. I can well imagine it would be an emotive issue for you. And someday you might get a chance to start from scratch with your own children. The reality is that although you've had a shittier time than most, nobody gets a perfect childhood or a perfect parent, and comparing your experience to the ideal will only make you feel worse. I don't know who I want to be or how to get there either, and I'm starting to suspect that many seemingly confident adults are also constantly questioning this. Maybe just taking it one day at a time is all we can do?



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