Good Prompting

not mine

5 July 2013
10:45 am

T. —

When I wrote yesterday “There is so much in the house to be organized, but I am copying out a story for you from the book I read last night called “Everywhere”, published by Cargo & McSweeney’s,” I wanted to post up a picture of the space on top of our linen cupboard in the bedroom. I use it as a dresser-top, even though it’s higher than a regular dresser. It usually houses my jewelry, but over the past few months it has gathered more items and piles of things, and lots and lots of dust. I was going to take a picture and use it for the day as an example: This is one space I’m neglecting. There are lots of spaces like that in the house: most of it is shoved into drawers or hidden behind doors. This is the most visible.

Yesterday, I watched a silly movie: The Change-up. One of those body-switching, life-reversing movies between a womanizer and a family man who have been best friends since third grade. It was funny, mostly crude humor. But when Andrew came home, I told him about it. And then — we watched it again. I realize that as much as it gave me a space to laugh during the afternoon, it really also boosted my motivation. After watching it the first time, I cleaned the bathroom, changed the cat litter and took out the garbage. And, renewed my dresser space:

Cleared Space

Cleared Space

Once I started cleaning, I couldn’t really stop. But as I was moving through the house, I saw my process through new eyes. Usually, when I clean, I move something to where it is supposed to be, but then I stop and organize where it is I’m moving it to. Or I start to read something interesting. Or, I stop and make lunch. Or, I write down a note to myself. And inevitably, what started as clear out the bathroom has ended up as make lots of piles, take everything out of its place, oh shit – now there’s chaos everywhere. Not today. Today, I worked systematically and meticulously. I picked up my backpack from Ireland this weekend, emptied everything out of it onto the bed, and then put the  backpack away, sorted everything into piles, and once I took them to where they needed to be, I left them there. I didn’t start organizing my desk (even though it desperately needs to be organized), I didn’t reorder the medicine cabinet. I just recognized that they needed attention at a later point, and moved on.

That kind of seeing: that also has not happened to me before.

And then, after the second time of watching The Change-Up, Andrew and I discussed our lives, our responsibilities, how to be a more effective team. How to support and encourage each other. What we want to change. What roles we don’t want to grow into.

All in all, I think that movie was a pretty good idea for my life on that day.


The productiveness is also prompting me to go through both of my inboxes, to delete and archive and mine and categorize and dispense with whatever is still lurking in there. I’ve gotten them both down to a single page. Less than 20 emails in each. Amazing. It’s the eternal struggle: the empty inbox. But this morning, it has prompted me to find some beautiful quotes, including this one, which prompted me to email a friend and ask him which book this is from:

“You don’t know anyone at the party, so you don’t want to go. You don’t like cottage cheese, so you haven’t eaten it in years. This is your choice, of course, but don’t kid yourself: it’s also the flinch.

Your personality is not set in stone. You may think a morning coffee is the most enjoyable thing in the world, but it’s really just a habit. Thirty days without it, and you would be fine. You think you have a soul mate, but in fact you could have had any number of spouses. You would have evolved differently, but been just as happy.

You can change what you want about yourself at any time. You see yourself as someone who can’t write or play an instrument, who gives in to temptation or makes bad decisions, but that’s really not you. It’s not ingrained. It’s not your personality. Your personality is something else, something deeper than just preferences, and these details on the surface, you can change anytime you like.

If it is useful to do so, you must abandon your identity and start again. Sometimes, it’s the only way.

Set fire to your old self. It’s not needed here. It’s too busy shopping, gossiping about others, and watching days go by and asking why you haven’t gotten as far as you’d like. This old self will die and be forgotten by all but family, and replaced by someone who makes a difference.

Your new self is not like that. Your new self is the Great Chicago Fire—overwhelming, overpowering, and destroying everything that isn’t necessary.”

– Julien Smith

I could probably find the title of the book online, but another reason to connect with Sean is an added bonus. (By the way, the book is called “Flinch” and you can get it for free on Amazon via Kindle!)


The other thing I’ve realized in sifting through my emails is how much I like Goodreads, or what I know of it. What I know of it is this: I have a 58-page Word document of Goodreads quotations. I love your reviews on Goodreads. I imagine I might like the community there if I explored it more. I am glad so many people are still reading so much.

How do you feel about Goodreads these days?

Good, good morning,



One thought on “Good Prompting

  1. I think the only punctuation marks that I don’t use often are the ellipsis and the exclamation point. I like everything else, and I’m sure am quite guilty of using em dashes a lot. I can’t help it. Although I would like to revise “interrupts others with own thoughts” to “interrupts herself,” ha.

    Also, my old jewelry box had the exact same pattern and colour as the one in your photo. xx


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