Autumn routines tend to be less about glamor and more about grit. My fall, thus far, has looked like getting up before the sun, packing lunches and scrubbing breakfast dishes in the early light, motivating myself to work more and sit on my couch reading novels less, staying on top of all the little adult-ing jobs piling up, training for a half-marathon, getting back in the habit of being in charge of dinner plans, and a lot of daily work that can feel never-ending and insignificant.
It’s easy to miss summer. To dream of fall break and Christmas vacation. It is easy to resent the daily grind and the mundane tasks that comes with it. But these months of household chores and normal school days and laundry folding and morning commutes are what our lives are made out of. And we can grumble and live for the weekend and stress and just get it done, or we could learn to love what must be done.
We must look for blessings to come from unlikely, everyday place – out of Galilee, as it were – and not in spectacular events, such as the coming of a comet. – Kathleen Norris The Quotidian Mysteries
In my attempts to lean into the present moment and embrace the daily tasks on my agenda I am trying a few things to help me learn to love what must be done.
Find the most appealing option
We all have to exercise. But that doesn’t mean you have to run on a treadmill or pump iron if you hate it. Opt for yoga, or hiking, or rollerblading. Make and freeze your meals ahead of time if you are too overwhelmed at the thought of making dinner after a long workday. Do your grocery run late at night if it’s stressful to go during the after school rush. Just because a task must be done does not mean it has to be done the hard way.
Savor the sensory experience
I could run from chore to chore at high speed on auto mode. Or I could move a little slower and splash my hands in the warm suds while I do the dishes. I could pause in the sunshine spot that has heated up the floor I’m mopping. I could inhale the smell of damp autumn leaves when I take the trash out. I could enjoy the view of the mountains on my walk across the parking lot. And there’s nothing like resting your face on clean laundry fresh out of the dryer.
Recognize the big picture behind the task
I don’t love the morning food assembly process. I’m usually fighting the morning crabbies and wishing I was in bed with an order in for coffee and doughnuts. But I love that I get to care for my husband. I used to dream of making breakfast and packing a lunch for him before we were married and now that is reality. I also love that I have the resources to care for my body and I am committed to doing the best I can at maintaining a healthy lifestyle. So even though I’d rather not be blending a fruit smoothie or chopping green peppers and cucumbers for my lunch salad, I’m thankful for the opportunity to do so.
Pause to enjoy the end product
My favorite moment in the day is when all the dinner dishes are on the rack to dry, the crumbs have been swept off the counter, and the day’s accessories have been put back in their place. I dim the lights and sit on the couch and take a moment to enjoy the serenity a well-kept home brings. Stop for a minute before your next item on the to-do list and enjoy the shining chrome of the faucet, the inviting comfort of the made bed, the way your body feels after a good work out, the pleasure of a presentation gone well.
Is there anything you have found to be helpful in your own pursuit of loving what must be done? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
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