In which the author tells you how to run your life -- or at least how to make the most of the fun parts of it.

For instance, inside these pages you will learn how to weather a mortar attack in good spirits; how to avoid booking yourself on the Internet into a bed and breakfast full of twee quilts and dusty tchotkes; and how to plan a dinner party that will stun your guests with deliciousness and style and not destroy your will to live with the amount of work you have to do to pull it off.

These are things I know firsthand, and things people who know me often ask me about (though I usually just book them into bed and breakfasts myself -- identifying ruffled death traps is an acquired skill). I am almost always right about everything (food, style and travel-related, anyway, and often many other things) and if everyone would just do as I say, dinner would taste better, cupcakes would not be dry, your parties would be more fun (for you), and mortar attacks... well, they always suck. I can't do anything about them.

*except laundry. I can't manage my own laundry, much less yours.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

How to Make a New Life Resolution

I am heading into an exciting period of underemployment wherein I will finally not have an excuse not to live my life as I always planned I would, had I ever become a pampered housewife. I have not become such a housewife, but (delightful) circumstances have me at home for a while, and I get to create an intentional domestic life. Sort of like a dream version of Martha Stewart’s life, if she weren’t so busy with her empire and that calendar of hers.

(And, no, I have not won the lottery – sort of the opposite. What I have won is the opportunity to be at home for long stretches, as long as I don’t go wild with the charge card. More on this wonderful professional change in a future post.)

So ask yourself: If you didn’t have to go to work every day, how would you run your daily life?
Post your answer in comments. I’m looking for ideas… Basically, I’m having mild panic that I will become a Pringles-eating-couch monster without an office to go to. It’s entirely possible.

So I am looking for structure that will allow me to make the most of this gift of time. When I do end up in the full-time grind again – if I do – I don’t want to regret not living this period exactly as I should – organized, serene, and productive, with the time and inclination to savor the good stuff and indulge my hobbies.

Here’s my first pass at Rules for Living Intentionally, The Home Version:

1. Every meal will be an occasion. I will take the time to prepare good food and eat it at the table – not in front of the TV.

2. I will read the newspaper every day.

3. Television watching will be kept to a minimum during the day – appointment TV only. (That means Ina Garten, which will help me keep Rule 1. She’s always having people over for lunches).

4. Lunch dates will be made and kept with friends working downtown (and time permitting I will walk to them, and bring them homemade treats, or invite them to my house to feed them).

5. I will swim or walk or take a yoga class or go to the gym daily (M-F). The siren song of my 10-foot Chesterfield is strong.

6. I will complete my 16 lesson (30 minutes a day) Arabic language CD, finally, four years after it might have done me good. I can order one sesame cookie and tell people I am an American in a singsongy-Syrian dialect that dissolves native speakers into peals of laughter (just enough Arabic to get me kidnapped in a bakery!). That's it.

7. I will play my violin 30 minutes a day.

8. Every morning I will pop in one smallish, manageable load of laundry, and fold it and put it away.

9. I will do 10 Sun Salutations every morning to counteract all that couch sitting I will inevitably do upon ignoring rules 1 – 8.

10. I will make my bed every day – and I will shower and not wear pajamas all day.

11. I will tackle work in 2 hour blocks, at my desk – not on the couch.

12. I will take a break in the afternoon for tea.

13. I will make bread once a week.

14. I will do my dishes after each meal.

15. I will go to a lecture, movie or discussion once a week.

16. I will become an expert upholsterer. (a girl can aspire)

17. Every day I will do one hateful cleaning task for 15 minutes – wiping the floor, cleaning the baseboards, dusting the ceiling beams.

18. Once a week, at an appointed day and time, I will sit down for an hour to write actual letters and cards to friends and family. (Hat tip to Micki at Apartment Therapy for that one). Small bottles of champagne will be involved, to lure me to the desk.

19. I will track what I spend every day (necessary under the new austerity regime).

20. I will read books from the library.

21. I will only check my email four times a day -- when I wake up, after lunch, before dinner and before I go to bed (unless of course I have a project in the works). Massive time suck.

Thoughts? Suggestions?


  1. This is just CRAZY TALK.
    Waaaaay too many goals, I can tell you, as someone who has just LEFT that lifestyle.

  2. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this list!!!! I hope I can have such a great list one day!

  3. oh Blackbird.. i always have you to tug me back to reality... :)

  4. Consider adding to your list:

    *Looking for bargain air fares on Virgina America or Jet Blue to come to San Francisco and visit Bill and Gregg and cook lots of delicious meals together, wander around the de Young museum, and trek through the Marin headlands. Boyfriend reunification on left coast optional but highly encouraged!

  5. YOU GREAT BIG PILL i was just thinking about that this morning! and I got your xmas card which i LOVE.

  6. Wow! I absolutely envy you and your list! I feel like you have been reading my mind of things to do. So many things I aspire to do but never make the time to do and actually enjoy. I will be interested in knowing over the next year how its going!!