First, something: I’m wary of assigning sanctimonious yarns to everyday behaviors. In truth, what makes for a good habit today doesn’t always carry the years.
Related – For months, in college, I subsisted solely on free dinner rolls from the restaurant I waitressed at in a valiant attempt to save enough money for my first car. I’d have called that a good habit at the time. Look at that! I’d think. Just swimming in self control! Budget or bust!
But for today, for the me that is alive and well, there are 3 decidedly good habits I’ve been establishing as of late, things worth falling into that have surprised even me. Three habits I am loving, habits that are shaping this small self beyond the me I once was. Here they are:
Filling the Stock Pot with Banana Peels
We’ve been composting for three years going strong, which I’ll admit is far less than I’d like it to be. Our gardening efforts are often hit-or-miss, and this year, we skipped the whole practice in the name of procrastination. There’s nary a tomato to be found, and yes, for the curious, I have indeed learned my lesson.
And so, we’re doubling down on our efforts in preparation for a more – ahem – proactive spring next year. The dirt will be ready, no excuses allowed. All accountability aside, there’s something lovely about composting whether in need of soil or not. The act of filling a stock pot with banana peels, coffee grounds, egg shells, all manner of clementine peels dumped from small, sticky fingers. The end-of-night ritual of transferring the contents into the compost bin outdoors. Hearing the cicadas. Washing the pot. Awaiting a new cycle in the morning.
As is expected, the newfound care has trickled into other areas: bringing my own mug to the coffee shop. Packing glass storage dishes to take home leftovers from our favorite diner. Saying “No, thanks,” to straws.
Small things, indeed. But I happen to believe small things are not at all small.
Pancakes at the Playground
Last spring, I read the memoir that finally – once and for all – shook my indoor-loving self to the core. Ever since, the kids and I have shirked our former transportation methods in the comings and goings of our day in favor of one (two): feet. Dragging wagons of books to the library, jumping rope to the park, playing “Red Light, Green Light” all the way to the neighborhood playground and back.
The walking – so much walking! – has sparked a hundred possibilities for exploration, and just this summer, I’ve finally stumbled upon a wooded path that leads straight to the grocery, coffee shop, and our favorite family diner.
For those keeping score, where else is there to go?
Our newfound walking habit is simple in the gilded breezes of summer, but truth be told: I’m hoping it sticks even after the weather turns. When the snow comes, of course, I think I can safely guarantee the momentum of at least one happy outing (bribe?): A mile-long stroll to the library for a book to read over hashbrowns, eggs, and sausage at our favorite diner. Pancakes to go, please, we say, and once the bill is paid, we stuff our tupperware under the stroller and head home – but not before a stop at the playground for monkey bars, catch, and three fistfuls of syrupy dessert on the lawn.
We arrive home tired and sticky, easily having whittled 3-4 hours away, the better portion spent in the sun. It’s a tradition we’ve kept week after week, one worth continuing long after mittens are in order.
Ignoring the Barrettes
I haven’t sorted out the whys yet, but this is the first summer I’ve opted out of trends entirely. You’re not surprised, I know, nor are you a stranger to the slow layer-peel of releasing myself from the grips of consumerism, and yet: in the past, there have been many times I still wanted in. Many times it was difficult to resist the fiddle-leaf fig tree that I was sure would just make that corner in the dining room sing.
It is no longer difficult.
The woman who – a short lifetime ago – might have strolled the aisles of Target for fun has flown the coop. In fact, I realized in writing this that my last visit to Target was in 2016 to buy a car seat so we could bring Scout home. It stands to reason: what you look for, you’ll find.
And what you don’t, you don’t.
As such, I have completely missed the resurgence of barrettes, clips, etc. in all their nostalgic glory, and while I love and treasure the 90’s – and am forever complicating my relationship to hair – for now, for today, I’m ignoring the barrettes. Among other things.
I will say one thing here: this habit surprisingly required a bit of soul-shifting. Having once been trusted as someone who knew what was just on the cusp, taking a few steps back has presented a small bruising in pride.
(Well worth it, I have noticed.)
The last habit? One that I can’t accurately categorize as bad, but simply a ritual I’ve had a rough go of shaking:
Making 4-Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies With 5 Minutes and a Freezer
I affectionately refer to these as peaNOT butter cookies, because expectations are important. Still, if you find yourself with a midnight hankering for the oven version, this will help:
Mix 1 cup of almond flour with a drizzle or two of honey and 1/2 cup of peanut butter. Shape into balls. If you’re feeling fancy, lay them out on parchment paper and press each ball down with a fork to make those beloved crosshatches. Sprinkle with sea salt and throw ’em in the freezer for a few minutes. Thaw, then bliss.
Tell me: any new habits you’re trying on lately? You know how much I love to hear all about ’em.