Signs of progress

Two days ago I published a post saying I need to take more risks to see more/bigger change. I also suddenly gained a whole bunch of blog followers. Thank you, Courtney Carver, for including simplifyingathome in your post about new blogs on simplifying, and thanks to all of you who decided you’d like to see more.

The attention in the last couple of days prompted me to go back and read my very first post as a reminder of what I’m trying to achieve. Most of that bullet list of deficits still applies, hence my impatience for bigger change. But I can also point to signs of progress.

1. I went to the library in August. It made me so happy to be there by myself getting books for me! I borrowed three books and read them. Only one was returned after the due date. I submitted requests for more books.

2. Since July I’ve been meeting a friend a couple of times a week for early morning jogging/walking. We’ve talked about continuing into winter (sounds perfectly reasonable at the end of summer) with the goal of doing a 5K fun run on January 1.

The jogging is remarkable because a) I am not a runner and b) none of my attempts in the last five years at getting exercise back into my life have stuck. So why is it working now? Here are some possibilities:

  • Shedding the obligations of home ownership gives me more time.
  • I haven’t had to buy anything. Running shoes purchased in 2004, with no use in last five years and moderate use before that? Fine. Handful of workout tops and bottoms acquired in last few years? Check.
  • Early morning is a time when I am reliably free from other people’s needs and schedules.
  • The buddy system. The only way I could start exercising was to feel accountable to someone else. After several weeks I started going out by myself too, to make the getting up early and the jogging more of a habit, but I always try harder when we’re together.
  • When we started jogging my friend was more of an acquaintance—we only saw each other once or twice a year—but I knew she was someone I would like to have as a friend. Now we’re talking a few times a week while we’re exercising (most days I don’t even remember the running part—excellent!), and we had a fun outing with our families to celebrate the start of school. This social aspect is a huge benefit.

Now about the library. I love to read books and feel a little underfed when I don’t have one. However, getting to the library and keeping track of what books I want to read has felt like two or five more things on my to-do list. And even though it’s not rational, when I feel like my to do list is too long I get balky. Even about things I really want to do (get books) or need to do (write a thank you note), and even when I know those things will take less than 15 minutes from start to finish. Although I will always have a to do list, my hope is that my efforts to simplify will help me do a better job of prioritizing.

How do you manage your to-do list?


(I’m sure there is more than one way to keep track online of books you want to read, but I like Goodreads. And if you’re a runner or would like to be, here’s an inspiring story about a running club for homeless men.)

8 thoughts on “Signs of progress

  1. Thanks for taking us back to the beginning of your journey. Your list of life deficits is eerily similar to my own, and I hope that the simplifying I’m doing will improve these as well. Good to hear the progress your making.

    Library suggestion… I get a thrill each time I’m able to download a book to my Kindle from the library. So easy and it returns itself by the due date. No trip to the library necessary. If you don’t have an ereader, I hardily recommend one. I wouldn’t be without mine. If your library does not have a large digital collection, an out-of-town membership to the Philadelphia Free Library is a good source.

    Keep up the progress!

  2. Hi Ellen-I discovered your blog today and I am so inspired.
    I am an Interior Decorator working and living in Dubai and after 14 years of life in this hedonistic, excessive environment , i am making serious changes in my life with regards to accumulating STUFF. the whole city of Dubai revolves around shopping and is almost like an Olympic sport and all of our social engagements, particularly in the summer months, revolve around the Malls which are air-conditioned to Arctic temperatures and where we are constantly bombarded with the newest, the latest, the trendiest, the best.It is exhausting…….. I am finding myself increasingly disillusioned with the mentality here of greed and constant striving for more money, bigger buildings and better cars…I feel as though people here have lost touch with normality and I have a plan to move to the countryside of the UK to live a simpler, more authentic life.
    I find that your words have truly touched me and I thank you for sharing your journey,

    • Wow — a reader all the way from Dubai!

      I am certain that my husband and I are having an easier time saying no to stuff (we do still buy things, probably more than we should) because we are exposed to fewer advertising messages. We don’t have a TV and we don’t shop recreationally. When I do spend time in a shopping mall, I can feel myself begin to desire more and feel inadequate about what I already have.

      Thank you for commenting, and I wish you all the best with your plan to live a simpler, more authentic life.

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