One of my favorite daily prompts for journaling or reflection while taking Tilly on her morning walk: “What’s the most important thing today?” This provocation acts like a homing device for my intentions and values, directing me to shed the trivial and focus on what really matters. I like to segment my response in a couple of ways: what’s the most important thing on my plate for work today? what’s the most important thing with my children today? what’s the most important thing in my marriage today? etc. I find that the answers are nearly always obvious, on the tip of my tongue, and yet they change from day to day. For example, in parenting, today’s was letting my son know how much he is loved. He had an incident with an unkind boy at camp and told us earnestly, at the dinner table, between sips of milk: “Some people don’t like me.” We talked at length about how many people love him. How people will say and do unkind things, and how we can respond, and how we can not let those things change how we think about ourselves. But, of course, I laid in bed and worried, and so this morning’s “most important thing” was divining new ways to reinforce how cherished he is, to model how to let unpleasantness slick off our back like water, to cultivate self-love. But tomorrow’s might be different. So, too, with work, and with relationships, and household admin. But isolating the top matter helps me avoid that spiraling feeling of “there is too much to stay on top of!”
I thought I’d take this prompt in a different direction today, by funneling it into a new set of icebreakers for you all to weigh in on. (If you’re new-ish here, I encourage you to read earlier icebreakers here and here, where Magpies invariably answer my prompts with charm, idiosyncrasy, and wit). Aim to answer each with a few words!
What’s the most important thing —
…on the first day of a new job?
…when getting dressed?
…when setting the table for a good day?
…when creating a fabulous meal?
…in a happy relationship?
…when enjoying a great conversation?
…when speaking in public?
I’ll go first!
…on the first day of a new job? An open mind. And don’t pack lunch! This forces you to find someone who can take you under his/her wing so you get to know the ropes and find early allies/work-friends.
…when getting dressed? Wear what sparks joy. This sounds woo woo but can be a huge mood elevator.
…when setting the table for a good day? A good night of sleep!
…when apologizing? Understanding that a true apology asks for nothing in return — not even forgiveness. It is a confession of wrongdoing!
…when creating a fabulous meal? Great ingredients and good music.
…in a happy relationship? Grace. After that, laughter.
…when enjoying a great conversation? Listening and occasionally suppressing the urge to share what you want to share. A good conversation goes both ways, of course, but I have learned in my late 30s that sometimes we don’t need to share our take, our experience, our story. Sometimes it is more meaningful to let the other person shine, have the floor, etc.
…when speaking in public? Control the first sentence. If you can deliver the first line slowly and clearly, it sets the precedent for the remainder. Speak much more deliberately than you think feels natural, and take a three second pause after the first period. I promise this strategic pacing will set you up for success.
Please share your thoughts on any or all of these prompts in the comments!
+More on apologies. (I’ve thought a lot about this!)
+Recently bought this reasonably-priced set of stainless steel mixing bowls and they are in CONSTANT USE. They aren’t quite as lightweight as the Vollrath enormous one (8 QT size) I’ve raved about in the past, but they are super inexpensive and the sizes are perfect for all your kitchen / mise en place utility work. Use as scrap bowls, to soak veg, to prep ingredients, to marinate, etc. Can’t rec enough.
+Ordered a bunch of jeans to try on for fall and will share snaps next week. I’m really intrigued by the brand SLVRLAKE, which seems to be having a moment! Especially excited to try these Grace jeans!
+Love this army green striped sweater.
+This scalloped side table is under $400 right now! So chic!
+Ordered myself this weekly pad specifically to keep things organized for the children — will list play dates, after school activities, lunch, etc. You can get 10% off sitewide with code MAGPIE10. Lots of goodies for back to school and home organization!
+This $30 dress for girls! TOO CUTE. Looks like SEA or Doen.
+If the wedding registry has dwindled down to nothing by the time you go to buy a gift, towels from Boll and Branch or Matouk are always a good pick. These are also my go-to housewarming gifts, and make great Christmas gifts for families/couples. Who doesn’t love fluffy new towels?!
+This tweedy top is SO good. I would style with dark wash denim and Chanel ballet flats, and maybe a big black headband? Ladylike!
+Ordered my son this sweater.
+If you’re looking to style loafers/sneaks with socks this fall (advanced styling move!), consider these for the job.
+Another fab fall dress.