Homework, for life

Homework for Life | Matthew Dicks | TEDxBerkshires

Someone shared this recently and I decided I would try to do it every day, though first thing in the morning because that works better, and in full paragraphs rather than just a few sentences.

The idea is to choose one thing from your day that you could turn into a 5-minute story. I already journal, so it’s a natural fit, and I’m finding the practice feels more focused and generates less whine.

The speaker compares the practice to meditation and promises it will change our lives and I’m a little excited because it may already be working.

Yesterday I forced myself out for a walk during lunch break, even though it had been over a week and my fitness level is so low I don’t even want to exercise. I forgot that could happen, but it can. Sad.

Speaking of sad, I was walking along a razed cornfield and saw all the trash that blew in and got trapped, ugly like scars. The path followed between trees no longer a bustling canopy but naked and silent. The birds will come back, as will the leaves and corn, but it isn’t the same without them. I wondered why I’d want to keep coming in winter with nothing to look at or listen to.

This will sound nutty, but sometimes I feel myself pulled in a certain direction. It’s not exactly physical, but I don’t know how else to describe it. Yesterday something pulled me down a grassy path I’d never noticed before. That’s when I saw a pond I’d never noticed before. 

On the way to the pond, I passed a cluster of trees and a smaller pond and saw out of the corner of my eye a charming wooden statue that I first mistook for Smokey the Bear or a murderer. Relieved it was not the latter, I stopped to take pictures and never made it to the big pond, but thought to myself no rush. I have all winter.


Truth is, I didn’t think there were any more suprises in this park. I thought I’d seen just about every nook and cranny, and then I felt that pull again and followed the new path around and found fun new graffiti I never would have seen otherwise.


This Homework for Life might really work. Knowing that I get to pick one thing from each day to write about – a mini story – might sharpen my ability to see.  It might propel me to take new paths. I’m not sure, but by yesterday afternoon I already knew what I would write about. I already have my story for today too.

One of the things the homework for life guy promises is if you do it consistently, time will slow down. This is the part I want the most and don’t believe will happen. 

Fall flew by and the holiday season is almost over and I still feel like I’m hovering somewhere off screen. It’s not entirely unpleasant and memories tell me we lived a full Fall and will be able to say the same at Christmas. But still, if I could just slow it all down, even just by a noticeable increment, I think I would like to do that.

A coworker shared an interesting theory about why time seems to fly more by the year. She said think back to a summer when you were a little kid and how that one season was such a big chunk of your overall short life. Then jump ahead 40 years, and one summer is just a blip. The older you get, the faster it goes until one season seems a blur.

Maybe this building momentum of the passage of time is inevitable, like getting older in general. We can’t fight gravity, but a minute always lasts the same amount of time. So the blur must be perception and there’s got to be a way to feel more present inside it.

I feel like when I wake up soon, the kids will be grown and we’ll have new cats and will have forgotten the names of the ones we have now. Rip Van Winkle meets Homework for Life. This is what I’m playing with at the moment and it beats stressing out over Christmas, which I am also doing, so maybe it’s more of a break.

If you have tips for slowing down the passage of time that doesn’t involve plastic surgery or meditation (none for me, but thanks anyway!), I’m all ears.


25 thoughts on “Homework, for life

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  1. Great share. Thanks very much.

    The best thing I know about the time thing is to savor and live in the moment. Already, I am thinking that today is my last official day of work until January 4 and that tomorrow AM I will be heading to New Orleans to spend a week with my wife, but I was not thinking about what the dogs are doing just now, how good the coffee is, or that I am having dinner this evening with neighbors, and so forth. But the writing, yes, I think that is most important.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “This will sound nutty, but sometimes I feel myself pulled in a certain direction. It’s not exactly physical, but I don’t know how else to describe it.”
    This isn’t nutty at all–so wonderful to hear that it happens to somebody else, too. It’s how I decide which path I’ll run for the day, or which story I’ll read. No surprise that I migrated to you this morning. Thank goodness!
    I am so eager to put into practice the homework you describe. Your post this morning was a true gift – just in time for the holiday.
    Thank you, Kristen! Don’t be surprised if we truly cross paths someday 🙂 xoxoxoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You always understand, Michelle (like, always). I’ve always loved that pull…on hikes, on roads, even the mall sometimes, ha. It makes for memorable moments. I truly hope we do cross paths, would love to meet you.


  3. You know, this is mindful meditation.

    I do the same in the shower. Whenever I notice I’m thinking I smell the soap. I feel the water in my skin. The warmth.

    I do the same driving. My bum is in the seat. The car in front of me is red,etc.

    Every time you bring yourself back to the present it creates a little memory in your mind. Slowly it becomes easier and more natural.


    Liked by 2 people

  4. i LOVEEEE this!
    What great idea, what a great practice.
    It reminds me of a gratitude list too, in a way….we have to be aware and present in our days if we are going to have a list to write at night, right?
    I am heading out in a few minutes, but you bet i will be listening to this TED talk (altho you explained it, and showed how it works so beautifully)
    Thank you…it feels like a little xmas gift!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well I think it’s helping me with my word of the year, which hasn’t picked me yet but no rush. It’s fun and a little exciting to fall into these things. I worry a little that I misinterpreted what the TED talk guy said (watched it a week ago), so definitely watch it. He’s a great speaker/storyteller.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. misinterpreting things is often a good thing..we hear what we need to hear, right? I haven’t watched yet but will…if you misinterpreted I won’t tell you, because your interpretation is perfect!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Slowing down the passage of time, hmmm, I’m all for that. Such an interesting thought process. I love your stories already so can’t wait to see what’s ahead. I can’t do the meditation thing either so I’m going to give this a try. Thanks and Merry Christmas.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. With meditation, I know it’s the wrong way to look at it but I always think of a better use of my time. I’d rather journal/write or walk and sit with the thoughts I probably should be learning to quiet. I’ll never say never, but for now I gotta let it go. Merry Christmas to you too, Sharon.


  6. Slowing down time. There’s been a number of movie versions of Well’s book “The Time Machine”. My favorite was the one “Time After Time”. Had Mary Steenburgen in it. I thought she was hot which is I think a good enough reason to make that a favorite. Anyhow if I remember right Wells wrote that book in the late 1800’s, just a couple of years before I was born. My question is, if you had a time machine, where would you go? Forwards? Back? Would you change anything? For me, I don’t know. Today seems just as it should, not too fast, not too slow. It’s good to be reminded how precious this life is, thank you. I appreciate it. The photos are great. Merry Christmas.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The holidays had me missing Christmases and relatives long gone. It’s nice to be able to stay in and appreciate the moment, where new memories are being made as we speak. Thanks for the reminder 🙂


  7. What a wonderful idea, Kristen, so glad you shared it.

    You know, isn’t this a great metaphor for life itself:
    “Truth is, I didn’t think there were any more suprises in this park. I thought I’d seen just about every nook and cranny, and then I felt that pull again and followed the new path around and found fun new graffiti I never would have seen otherwise.”

    Each day when I open myself to it, life manages to surprise and delight me in some new way. Sometimes it’s a hummingbird that flies directly in front of my face and pauses on a tree to watch me, sometimes it’s the way Sadie appears to laugh when I misthrow the tennis ball, sometimes it’s a silly Hallmark commercial or a child holding the door for me at the store, or right now, Frank Sinatra singing “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” a song I had forgotten I liked until I heard it come on.

    Thanks for this. ❤ Merry Christmas my dear friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hadn’t noticed the metaphor, but you’re exactly right. We were just talking about hummingbirds last night at my parents house. They are funny (and angry) little creatures. We won’t see them here until June, but my mom has a glass one hanging from a light that my baby nephew loves. Lots of new joy this holiday season. Glad you’re finding yours.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Kristen! I love how you followed your instincts in the park and went on different paths. That to me is so spiritual. To follow our inner most course or direction is really what I try and do daily. (and that’s not always easy!)
    To slow down time, I think many of your friends have already mentioned what I was thinking. Living in the moment, etc. so I would say to SAVOR. Yes, savor the moments and see the true grace in them. If you look, you will see Grace in almost everything.
    xo Joanne

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Joanne. I’ve taken this savoring thing seriously and happy to report more than a little success this Christmas. It feels full, complete, definitely not a blur. Happy holidays!


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