I quit.

As an early Thanksgiving gift to all loyal Sustainable Sue followings, I offer this message of thanks and gratitude.

Source: Giphy

This is a message about quitting.

The Yesterday Sue that drafted that Fall Fun List is not the same Today Sue that sits here writing this. Isn’t this always how it happens with goals and plans? Recently on the Conscious Contact podcast we talked about Motivation vs. Determination (spoiler: one gets you started and one keeps you going). Then we talked about Quitting (spoiler: I am in favor of it).

Prepping for and recording both of these episodes brought to mind several things that apply to this Fall Fun List. But first I want to recap where we are with this whimsical exercise.

Fall Fun Recap

The original plan poked up its head in September, and I asked you for your suggestions. After considering my time, energy, preferences, and budget I landed on five things that seemed simple at the time.

I posted updates about progress here and here. Then I traveled to the Pacific Northwest for work for 7 days for a somewhat last minute trip. When I planned the Fall Fun List, I thought for sure that the trip was going to be cancelled.

Source: Giphy

When we returned from the trip, most of the leaves had turned. Then hurricane remnants came through and leaf peeping season was over.

I still want to get more time around the fire pit, but the weather took that weird North Carolina turn and went from 75 to 29 in one day. I need to get brave enough to sit out there.

SusPro Adjustment

Let’s swing these results around to view from a Sustainable Productivity (SusPro) lens. Rarely do plans work out the way we want. Why do we continue to have the unreal expectation that they will if we just apply our iron will?

Plans are worthless. Planning is everything.

dwight d. Eisenhower

So my SusPro adjustment is to quit. I am putting a stopper on the Fall Fun List. Not a pause, a stop. I am finished with that. I quit. And it feels final and complete, not like a failure. Maybe I will try again next year. Maybe there will be other fun things I want to try instead.

The point is that hanging onto tasks, goals, and plans just to be stubborn is not productive – it is not getting me the joy of doing these things. Sure there is value in perseverance, but I will save that for important things like writing my book proposal and getting my last 3 work projects across the finish line before the end of the year. Not forcing myself to try to control Mother Nature to stop raining so I can have a fire pit to cross something off the list.

Sustainable Productivity Questions

  1. What is something on your to do list that you are stubbornly hanging onto?
  2. What is keeping that item on your list and what would it be like to cross it off or just let it go?

If this weekly essay resonated with you, please share it with a friend. I am trying to grow Sustainable Sue and spread the ideas of Sustainable Productivity. The best way to do that is for you to share with someone you know. I am ever grateful.

By |2022-11-15T09:43:22-05:00November 22nd, 2022|Sustainable Productivity|0 Comments

Purpose of Hobbies

Sometimes the purpose of hobbies is not the actual project. As fall 2022 hands off to the season of ALL HOLIDAY ALL THE TIME, I wanted to share a hobbies round up. As I started to write up the recap, I realized I was talking about more than the hobbies. I was talking about the purpose of the hobbies.

For those of you new here – or a refresher for Sustainable Productivity veterans – hobbies are a component of the Mental Well-being dimension of Sustainable Productivity. If you never unplug, your mental, physical, and emotional batteries drain until you don’t have energy to give yourself and your people. 

Hobbies help us recharge. You can read more about hobbies and Sustainable Productivity here and here

Side note: One of my favorite hobbies is reading. Today’s round up does not touch on reading. To see more about what I am reading you can go here and here

In order to help keep myself accountable, I share regularly about what I have in progress. Hobbies are not just something to pass the time. They each have a purpose or lesson or maybe even job to do for me. During this literal and proverbial season in my life, hobbies fall into a few categories that I wanted to share with you. Maybe you have not related to the hobby itself, but you can relate to what I am getting from the hobbies.

Solace

“Art is to console those who are broken by life.” Vincent Van Gogh 

I am a card carrying member of the sandwich generation. We parent two young adults, and although my dad is 700 miles away, I am involved almost daily in his life as his health is declining. This is a hard spot to be in. I see mistakes I made with my own kids – wishing it could be different and trying to accept what is. I see my dad not being the robust, sharp man he used to be – wishing it could be different and trying to accept what is. 

It is enough to break me some days. But art gives me solace. This particular project I’m working on now uses my dad’s old ties. When we cleared out his closet prepping for a big move last year, I pulled them out of the donations box when he wasn’t looking. This was a purely sentimental, selfish move. And I am not sorry about it. I am creating Christmas gifts for the girls in our family from his ties and will have plenty left over for a quilt project in the coming years. 

Immersing myself in the art of this hobby is a way to wrap myself in whatever feelings I have. Acknowledge them, feel them, sometimes process them. But sometimes I want to do the opposite and ignore them. Which is where the next purpose of hobbies comes in.

Learning

Learning a new technique, hobby, or skill requires me to pay attention to what I am doing. No multitasking with Netflix or audiobooks. I can’t field text conversations about Medicare donut holes while I am in a class with other hobbyists. 

This is what I love about learning – a reprieve. Also a chance to fire up a different part of my brain. Here is a photo of a pillow top that I recently made in a class at my local quilt shop. There were dozens of small pieces that came together to make the pillow top – easy to mix up. The pattern was complex – a show stopper to mix up all those small pieces. Plus I learned to make a pillow or to recover the pillows I already have or find in a shop that might need a new life. 

The benefit of learning through a hobby is a super focused distraction. But sometimes I don’t want to be focused or emotional. I just want an escape from the daily grind. Which is the third purpose of hobbies. 

Escapism

Sometimes I just want to check out and follow instructions for a hobby or just connect with others about the common interest we have.

This summer Bixby, Daughter and I attended a glass blowing demo where the artist led us through how to do it ourselves. I was not learning it, just doing what George Anne told me to do. The result was beautiful hummingbird feeders. 

I have returned to making sweet potato bread more weekends than not. Now that I have the pan and oven situation sorted, it is back to being a fun hobby. I am following the instructions, puttering around the kitchen – often while Bixby is making dinner, and connecting with what I eat (vs. opening a package).

As I write this I am seeing that all three of these categories are feeding into a fourth purpose of hobbies that might potentially be the most important.

Connection

“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” Plato

Connection with others is an untended purpose of hobbies for me. I love to anyone who will listen how much I don’t need other people.

And yet.

Authentic connection with others is what helps me – and I would suggest all of us – create a life that we don’t want to numb out and escape from. 

If we look at the first three categories of purpose of hobbies – solace, learning, escapism – there is a thread of connection. 

  • Solace – I am feeling my feelings about my kids and dad. Connection comes through art projects for the kids from my dad’s ties.
  • Learning – Connecting with others who share my interests.
  • Escapism – Sure sometimes I might make the bread alone in the kitchen. But what makes a stronger impression is when I share the space with Bixby or have a recipient in mind for the bread. 

Sustainable You Questions

  1. What hobbies do you keep coming back to time and again?
  2. Look beyond the surface – what are you getting out of these hobbies? What is the purpose of the hobbies?
  3. How can you increase or extend this in other areas of your life?

      If this weekly essay resonated with you, please share it with a friend. I am trying to grow Sustainable Sue and spread the ideas of Sustainable Productivity. The best way to do that is for you to share with someone you know. I am ever grateful.

      By |2022-11-08T10:07:19-05:00November 15th, 2022|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

      Fall Fun List – A New Recipe

      I tried a new recipe a couple weeks ago. A little background before the big reveal. This is a quick update on the Fall Fun List.

      I have been inspired by the current season of the Great British Baking Show (except for Mexican Week – what a dumpster fire that was) to return to the kitchen. But only for baking a very specific recipe: Cinnamon and Spice Sweet Potato Bread by Averie Cooks. I used to make this all the time. I gave it away as gifts and even the kids liked it (they were grade schoolers at the time). Then we moved to a new house and I could NOT get the settings right on the new oven.

      The more Bixby tried to help me, the more pissed off I got. So I just quit making it.

      Weirdly, that did not help me dial in the settings AT ALL.

      Earlier this fall I returned to the kitchen, mastered the settings. Hint: Glass dishes bake veeeeery differently than metal.

      Then came the Fall Fun List and trying a new fallish recipe seemed like a good idea. The contender that I put up against the champion sweet potato bread was Chocolate Pumpkin Bread from Two Peas and Their Pod.

      Gorgeous bread is a photo from Two Peas and Their Pod website, not the actual loaf I made (but thanks for the confidence in my baking).

      While the recipe itself was fine, it was more chocolatey than pumkiny. On the surface that is a win, but the intent was a fallish recipe. Since the pumpkin did not come through, it did not really hit the mark.

      But overall, I am glad I tried it. And I am glad to have my trusty standby Sweet Potato Bread back in the mix.

      What about you? Do you have any favorite fallish recipes?

      By |2022-11-01T08:24:52-04:00November 8th, 2022|Habit Change|0 Comments

      A Good List

      I love a good list, I am the daughter of two educators, and these phenomena are colliding this week. The result is a list of 7 good things in my life right now (A Good List, if you will), highlighting where they fit into the concepts around Sustainable Productivity. 

      I am trying to practice what I preach by whittling out the things that are not working for me and I could not continue lifelong. 

      The Good List

      1 – Paul, Lucille | Relationships component of Mental Well-being dimension

      These two are my ride or die, as the kids say. Loneliness has a greater impact on health than even heart disease which highlights the importance of relationships in our lives. These two bring me lots of joy.

      This is the view from the desk in my office. I am not sure how I get work done with all this cuteness around.
      Speaking of cuteness! This is a coffee shop close to our house. We stopped after a Sunday morning hike recently.

      2 – Books | Hobbies component of Mental Well-being dimension

      I had a streak in October where I had 8 books going at once. Most of these were non-fiction and it got to be a little too much. I did a bit of “deck clearing” where I waited until I finished everything to start new books, which is unusual for me. But this change of pace was just what I needed.

      3 – Hot yoga | Exercise component of Health and Fitness dimension

      Hot yoga at Dancing Dog Yoga in Greensboro is helping me hold off another cortisone shot in my knee. As the weather cools off the heat in the room (95-105 degrees) really helps me stretch safely and the power flow has really increased my strength. Part of my seasonal adjustments to exercise will be to add another day of hot yoga since I am less likely to ride my bike.

      4 – Fiber crafts | Hobbies component of Mental Well-being dimension

      Makoto Fujimura is an artist who embraces the art as a “slow act of making as sacred work.” This really resonates with me related to fiber crafts that I have been working on lately. It takes a long time to knit a pair of socks – especially to get them right. I made 5 pair of socks over the course of a year, and they gradually improved. There really is not a way to rush it. I can only knit as fast as I am able. And that is enough. And enough is sacred these days. 

      5 – Learning | Hobbies component of Mental Well-being dimension

      Between trying to grow the Sustainable Sue business and the Conscious Contact podcast, I have spent a lot of time learning new things in recent months. I can almost feel wrinkles forming in my brain – and I love it! There is nothing better than tinkering with ideas and seeing them come to life (see previous comment: I am the daughter of 2 educators). Here are a few highlights:

      • Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) – this will help me lead more effective online courses and video content
      • Video podcasting – Genay and I launched our video podcast last month
      • Building out the Sustainable Sue YouTube channel – This has been a really interesting combination of creativity, marketing and technical skills. 

      6 – Travel | Hobbies component of Mental Well-being dimension

      Last week I had to travel for work to the Pacific Northwest. Bixby, my emotional support animal, came with me. We traveled to three cities in 7 days – Portland, Yakima, and Seattle. We ate incredible food, tucked into more than our fair share of coffee and desserts, and saw inspiring views. 

      Yakima Canyon
      Redmon Memorial Bridge – Yakima, WA
      Washington Arboretum – Seattle, WA
      Last coffee at our favorite shop – Caffe Vita in Queen Anne area of Seattle

      7 – Coming home | Rest component of Environmental Surroundings dimension

      While I do love to travel, MAN DO I LOVE TO COME HOME. I love my bed, my office, the Soda Stream machine, and my routines. 

      You will see that the list is heavy on the Mental Well-being dimension. This has always been the hardest part of wellness for me. This is usually where I turn first when I am feeling wonky and try to make adjustments. That might not be your first choice, but what is important is that you know where to focus first.

      Sustainable You Questions

      1. What is saving your life right now?
      2. How could you share that with others?
      3. List three ways you could get more of that in your life in the coming months.

      I would love to hear what is on your Good List. Reply to this message or come find me on Instagram or Facebook.

      By |2022-10-31T09:05:39-04:00November 1st, 2022|Sustainable Productivity|0 Comments

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