Plotting my Areas of Growth


It is easy for me to think I’m learning a lot by bouncing around from web article to web article. And, I actually do have pretty good taste in reading, I think. I’m reading some of the #longreads and the well-thought-out literary reviews. I’m doing some fine reading. But every now and then, I have to decide what areas of my brain I want to focus on, and what sorts of things I want to read. I’m a glutton. I will read anything I can get my hands on, so the internet makes me like a kid wired on sugar sometimes.

Then I read the amazing article, Why Can’t We Read Anymore, and realized that I have a Dopamine Rush happening every time I respond to an email, or text or tweet or comment, and I’ve become a junkie, and I want to settle my brain down and read a good book with no distractions.

This week, I was challenged by Amy Putkonen over at Tao Te Ching Daily to come up with a #WhatAreYouWorkingOn as part of an ongoing weekly challenge over on her blog. As soon as I read her dizzying entry about all the projects she’s involved in, the books she’s reading, her workout routine, and her home reorganization challenge, I realized that I’d been stuck in a braindrain of internet surfing that was not nearly as productive as I was trying to imagine it. I mean, a lot of great articles, but I need to rein it in and decide which ones to meditate on and turn into something internal for me, or rather which ones will get me up off my chair to participate in life again!


There are so many things I want to do better, it is hard to focus on just one, but I think Small Manageable Bites, and get better at something, build it into habit, and then work on the next thing. I like that Amy is starting a reading study on The Conscious Parent. I own that book. I picked it up, and I need to dust it off and get into it with a group of other parents who are discussing it.

The idea that is sticking with me right now is the idea of Play. Two different articles I read this week made me think of play in powerful ways. One flat out asked “How Much Time Do You Spend Playing with Your Kids?” and I realized that I spend a lot of time doing things for my kids, preparing meals, organizing, shopping, putting things away, doing laundry – and I don’t always spend so much time playing. This is my first summer being home with the kids, where I’m not also trying to work or work from home. I want to be able to actually spend quality time with them playing and doing what they want to do.

The other article was actually about our brains and making choices and the brain of an Octopus, but it reminded me of learning that an Octopus in captivity will die if it is not played with – if it is not actively engaged in a back and forth communication and interaction with a human trainer. How much more important is it that I am actively engaging my children in play and communication?

Of course, any talk of the brain and our need to play reminds me of Tara Rodden Robinson and all the great work she does. Just saying her name reminds me of seven or eight great things that I can do right now to de-stress. She is such a master!


So, as soon as I knew that I wanted to do Amy’s #WhatAreYouWorkingOn weekly wrap-up, I realized I needed to rush around and get a few things done so I’d have something to share. At least I’m honest. I’d spent most of the week reading and commenting on blogs and not doing a whole lot of anything. One day, I spent cleaning out a filing cabinet drawer, and throwing away an entire, giant bag of stuff I do not need, leaving room for all the stuff piled on top of my desk that needs to be filed.

But, I did read, and couldn’t find again for the life of me – a great article on Cleaning a Clean Home. I have heard this before, that there are certain things that if we do them every day, the house seems to magically stay clean. So, I put together a list, and my kids have their portion of chores, and I have my portion. Every Day we:

  • Make beds
  • Sweep the kitchen and bathroom
  • Wipe down the kitchen and bathroom
  • Dust
  • Vacuum
  • Pick up the Living Room
  • Pick up our own Bedrooms 
  • Clean off my Desk (Still a To Do – but it will get done this week and then I want to Keep it That Way!)

Miraculously, we seem to have so much more time with these things done early in the day and the house feeling amazing.


Here is where I’m super proud. I realize that if I set up a Menu for the Week in advance, how much more easily everything would flow around here. Yet, I don’t do it. I figure I’ll just wing it, and that leads to stress and failure, disappointment and guilt.

This week, I wrote down a list of the sorts of things we like to eat, and categorized them, and then went and set up Pinterest Boards for them.

  • Breakfast as Art
  • Crock Pot Cuisine
  • Pasta is Trendy
  • Pie Please! for Dinner
  • Salad for Dinner
  • Sandwich (Not) Bored
  • Spice is Nice – Mexican Dinner
  • Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

Now, I can spend a few minutes putting things that look tasty onto my boards – and then when it’s menu planning time I can just pick a few that look good, and boom, done. My menu is planned!

I already did two of the dinners, and have another one in the Crock Pot for dinner tonight, and they were amazing! We had a Pulled Pork that was from a recipe book here at home, and then last night I did Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta and it was fantastic. Tonight, we are having Fiesta Chicken and Rice Bowls. The whole house smells delish!


I picked up a new Natalie Goldberg book at the Poetry Reading I was a part of on Monday of last week down at Bloomsbury Books in Ashland. I love Natalie’s work. I have her Writing Down the Bones on my bedside table and go through it periodically for inspiration. This new one is The True Secret of Writing, and it is fantastic.


The Boys and I started a couple of weeks ago with our new Eat Art series. For some reason, Baseball practice and games took over this last week, but we are still attempting to go through this in the evening, looking at fun things we find on the internet to share with one another.

  • Monday – Murals
  • Tuesday – The Universe
  • Wednesday – Wonders of the World
  • Thursday – Theater and Dance
  • Friday – Figures/Sculpture

The boys are artists, and one of the things I feel strongly about is that it is my job to feed them nourishment for their artistic souls. They need to be fed great ideas, the work of others, to expand their interests and their abilities.


I write. I write when it feels good and when it doesn’t. I write when I get attention for writing, and I write when I’m not being noticed at all. It doesn’t matter. I write because I’m a writer. I’m a Poet mostly, and have been writing new poems. I don’t post very many of my poems online, because I want to share them at our Poetry Slam that happens once a month, and I want to compile them into a book. I feel more and more that I want to do that, and so I need to put some focused energy on that and see what sort of book comes out of that. Fun.

13 thoughts on “Plotting my Areas of Growth

  1. Hi LIesl,

    Funny. When I read your post, I felt like YOU are doing a lot and not me! That’s what is so cool about this challenge. It really makes you look back at all you’ve done. You’ve done a LOT! Be proud! I am jealous of your summer off with the kids. They do grow up fast and it is so wonderful to spend time with them. My daughter and I are going to try and get some bike riding in this week. Not sure what else. But you make a good point about playing. Perhaps we will play some games this week too! That would be fun.

    1. Bean’s First Grade teacher is participating in Screen Free week at school and asking families to do the same at home. I forgot this morning, and still read to the boys from my Kindle at the bus stop – but the rest of the week, we will be going old school with books and magazines, board games, and running around outside!! They have created their own Obstacle Course throughout the yard, that I wi be attempting as well. Ha!

  2. I’m very good also at putting off the laundry and dishes because I have so many blogs to visit and posts to write myself. I read a similar article about how our brains are so overstimulated:
    I’m doing The Conscious Parent group too! I checked out Tara Rodden Robinson too and she looks awesome. And I look forward to following you on FB and Pinterest. We have so much in common, it’s scary!

    1. It will be awesome to get to know you through that reading group. Amy always comes up with the greatest ideas of ways to learn and grow together! Thanks for being here.

  3. I think I’m doing the opposite; I’m working on focusing on a very few things at a time, because I definitely have BSO syndrome! I’m working on just 3 areas this week – becoming a better coach, being more visible in my business and improving my food choices.

    1. If only it were possible to focus on just a few things at a time. I think that would make a very uncomplicated life. I’ve tried to organize myself as simply as I can – but we have kids, and a farm with lots of chores to stay on top of things in all areas. Doing a little every day is helpful, but there are just still lots of areas to look at for us. I did stop writing down my daily things. If I can make those habits, to get done and out of the way early, than I can focus on the big things I want to accomplish. Like – doing the sheets on Mondays doesn’t even seem like work, because it’s just what we do on Mondays. It falls into place, and then I can tackle other stuff.

      I do not know what BSO syndrome is, but my brain had fun imagining things that would fit with those letters!

  4. Playing and self-expression are so important, but often the first thing to go when we get busy. It’s great that you’ve put them on your list. Just remember that if anything has to be reduces, reduce the housework first 🙂

    1. Yes! We keep it pretty surface, honestly. With boys, it seems like there is always a giant disaster somewhere. Wiping down countertops is probably the least I can do, but it makes the house smell good and gives me a feeling of being on top of things. Ha. Because playing is truly endless! Thank you for being here.

      1. I’m glad to hear it 🙂 It’s much more important to have happy people in the house than to have a spotless house. I do a bare minimum, both because I prefer to use my time for other things, and because of my disability. It often makes me do a whole lot on some days though, because people are coming over 🙂

  5. Wow, thank you for linking to my article, Liesl! I personally turned off all of my notifications for social media to avoid the dopamine rush, which makes it easier to focus on scheduling my time and not getting trapped in writing for the audience which happens to be there in the moment, which I have found to be an issue I struggled with in the past during this age of instantaneous connection. I admire the way you live – consciously assessing and reassessing your habits and notions and then letting go of what no longer serves you. It’s inspirational. xo Jenn

    1. I’ve set up times when I’m allowing myself to go online and respond or read and comment too. The constant checking is a drain on real-time relationships with the people in the same room as us. I am happy to have found your blog. I like the way you write and the way thoughts percolate with you, twisting and exploding into relevant and sometimes odd little side-thoughts. I get it, and I totally dig it!

      1. awesome, thank you! It’s really good to hear. I’m glad my brain makes sense to someone other than me!
        Setting times to respond and comment is important, Otherwise it can take over an entire life…

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