a year of virtues: living like Ben Franklin

Back in college, I read The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, and I was struck by many things: namely, how organized this great man was — and how¬†that was likely a necessity due to the many, many amazing things he was involved with, just one of which was the founding of our country!

Something else that has stayed with me all these years is Franklin’s list of virtues that he believed created a fulfilling life:

Benjamin Franklin’s Thirteen Virtues


1. TEMPERANCE: Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.

2. SILENCE: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.

3. ORDER: Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.

4. RESOLUTION: Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.

5. FRUGALITY: Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.

6. INDUSTRY: Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.

7. SINCERITY: Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.

8. JUSTICE: Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.

9. MODERATION: Avoid extreams (sic); forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.

10. CLEANLINESS: Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths (sic), or habitation.

11.TRANQUILLITY: Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.

12. CHASTITY: Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dulness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.

13. HUMILITY: Imitate Jesus and Socrates.


I thought a fun project to chronicle this year on the blog is living by Benjamin Franklin’s virtues, focusing on one per month. {Except for chastity… I think Franklin makes a great point, but I don’t quite feel like chronicling that topic on this blog!} ūüėČ Unlike previous years where I posted a new challenge each week, I’ll just be doing a recap post of these challenges each month. This is to keep things simple, and also because I want to stay on top of blogging as best I can, and posting a new challenge each week was sadly not feasible by the end of last year. I have been excited to pick up a lot of different freelance projects and teaching projects that excite me — but they also make my plate a little more full than it was¬†before! Thanks for being patient, and for continuing to read, as I work to find my “blogging groove” in this¬†exciting¬†new chapter of my life.

Speaking of new chapters… this month, I am moving into a new apartment with my sweetheart!

me and Allyn France

We will be living in a relatively small, quiet town in the Bay Area in our very own one-bedroom place. I am very excited!

For the month of January, my focus will be ORDER. Piggybacking on last year’s simplicity challenge, I would love to start 2016 off with an organized, orderly home and work life, with each thing in its place and only the things that bring my life joy. I will let you know how it goes!

xoxo,
Dallas

because I didn’t hit “snooze”

I almost hit “snooze” this morning.

I’ve confessed in this space before that I used to have a problem with hitting snooze. But, thanks to some reflection as part of my year of living simply, I realized that I didn’t like how snooze made me feel. I didn’t really get any extra quality sleep, and I just felt bad about myself when I finally did get out of bed… like I was already “behind” on my day. So I vowed to give up on snooze, and get out of bed when my alarm first goes off in the morning. I usually feel a little groggy when I first wake up, but by the time I’ve washed my face, put my contacts in, and downed two glasses of water, I am wide awake and ready to go!

me glasses

However, old habits can be hard to break. Even when you have some great momentum going, it can be so easy to slip right back into old patterns. Because old patterns are comfortable. They tend to feel good in the moment, even if you¬†know they don’t make you feel your best in the long run.

This morning, I almost hit snooze. My alarm went off and I just wanted to snuggle down into the covers for five more minutes. {Which would likely lead to five more minutes… and five more minutes… and five more minutes…} However, I intentionally set my alarm for as late a time as possible for me to get out of bed and still make it to yoga class without feeling rushed. So, hitting snooze would have meant a snowball decision: five or ten or fifteen extra minutes of half-sleep, and no chance of getting to yoga on time.

In that moment, I didn’t want to go to yoga class.

But I knew that Future Me would *wish* I had gone to that yoga class.

So I threw off the covers, got out of bed, and turned off my alarm. I changed into my yoga clothes that I had laid out on my bedside chair the night before. I drank my two glasses of cold water, ate a banana, and drank some green tea.

tea saying

And I felt awake. And energized. And jazzed for my day.

In fact, I had gotten ready so quickly that I still had about twenty minutes until I needed to leave the house. I remembered a delightful podcast I listened to last week, Real Talk with Nicole Antoinette, where she talked about her realignment to how she views time, particularly small pockets of time — ten minutes, twenty minutes — that she used to think were “not enough time” to get anything worthwhile done, so she would waste them away by surfing the Internet or scrolling through her phone. But ten or twenty minutes ARE enough — for taking a walk, for reading a chapter of a book, for meditating. Inspired by that thought, I used my extra pre-yoga twenty minutes to do some journaling, and it was enough time to get down some great ideas for my novel and for future blog posts. I felt excited to come back later and write more!

I left early enough for yoga class not to feel rushed. Instead of listening to the radio during my five-minute drive, I let silence envelop the car and just listened to my breathing. To my thoughts.

Yoga class was lovely, both relaxing and invigorating. Sometimes I feel shy when I sit down on my mat before class starts, but today I mustered the effort to strike up a conversation with the woman next to me, and we chatted for a few minutes. It was so nice. I was reminded of the ways that little bits of small talk and smiles with strangers make us feel connected to the wider world around us. While I think of myself as a natural introvert — I recharge by spending time alone or with a small group of people I am close to — I still need to feel this connection with¬†the broader world in order to feel my happiest.

If I had hit snooze, I would have been late to yoga class, and would have missed out on this breath of connection. Or, I might have hit snooze a couple times, and decided not to go to class at all.

peaceful ocean

My body felt so good after yoga class that I wanted to keep the momentum going. I stopped by the grocery store on the way home and picked up some organic veggies and frozen fruit and spinach, and I came home and made myself a fresh green smoothie. It was delicious. Instead of ducking my head behind my computer monitor, I chatted with my grandparents in the kitchen while I drank my smoothie. I didn’t feel at all like I was “behind schedule.” I felt overflowing, like there was time enough for everything I needed to do and wanted to do. Certainly there was ten minutes to drink my green smoothie and talk with my loved ones.

And then I washed the blender and my smoothie mug, made a fresh cup of green tea, and came to sit at my computer to type up this blog post. It is 11:00 a.m. and I am just now checking my email, and the world didn’t end. Nothing was so urgent that it couldn’t wait a couple hours.

I feel energized and excited about my plans for the rest of the day. I feel eager to work on my novel, jazzed about my sessions with students later, and connected to the world and to myself. I feel balanced and capable. Most of all, I feel grateful for the gift of this beautiful day and this precious life.

And I feel grateful that I didn’t press “snooze.”

year of kindness challenge: week 34

year of kindness button

Happy Monday, everyone! I’m writing to you from my new home in northern California. Here’s a pic my dad snapped right before I hit the road:

20130823_093354

I’m getting settled in and enjoying a lot of time with my wonderful relatives, including my cute cousin Bianca who I have a feeling is going to become my baking buddy this year. Woo! I’m so excited to have someone to bake with. ūüôā

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This past week’s kindness challenge was to donate school supplies to local children who need them. I donated these notebooks and markers to a school supply drive in my community¬†that I found with a quick internet search.

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The Week 34 Kindness Challenge is to buy a sandwich and drink and give it to a homeless person you pass by on your way home. Another option: if you go out to dinner, box up your leftovers and give them to a homeless person.

As always, blog about your experiences and include your links in the comments section below, or feel free to send me an email at dallaswoodburn <AT> gmail <DOT> com.

Have a marvelous day!
– Dallas

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year of kindness archives:
–¬†week 1 challenge: donate items to those in need
–¬†week 2 challenge: leave quarters & note at laundry machine
–¬†week 3 challenge: write & send a kind handwritten note
–¬†week 4 challenge: give hot chocolate to someone outside in the cold
–¬†week 5 challenge: do something kind for a neighbor
–¬†week 6 challenge: deliver valentines to a nursing home
–¬†week 7 challenge: donate to a food pantry
–¬†week 8 challenge: donate toiletries to a shelter
–¬†week 9 challenge: post a kind note in a public place
–¬†week 10 challenge: do something kind for a child
–¬†week 11 challenge: thank someone in a genuine & meaningful way
–¬†week 12 challenge: deliver baked goods to a fire station
–¬†week 13 challenge: give someone flowers
–¬†week 14 challenge: donate books
–¬†week 15 challenge: reach out and spend time with people
–¬†week 16 challenge: smile at everyone you meet
–¬†week 17 challenge: pick up litter/trash
–¬†week 18 challenge: write a kind note to a mom figure in your life
–¬†week 19 challenge: leave an extra-generous tip
–¬†week 20 challenge: donate blood/join bone marrow registry
–¬†week 21 challenge: visit a cemetery and pay respect
–¬†week 22 challenge: practice a little patience
–¬†week 23 challenge: call 3 loved ones on the phone
–¬†week 24 challenge: do something kind for a senior citizen
–¬†week 25 challenge: pay for someone‚Äôs public transportation
–¬†week 26 challenge: volunteer at a food pantry or soup kitchen
–¬†week 27 challenge: send a care package to someone in the military
–¬†week 28 challenge: give at least one compliment every day
–¬†week 29 challenge: do a favor for someone else
–¬†week 30 challenge: scatter lucky pennies around a playground
–¬†week 31 challenge: mail an empowering postcard
week 32 challenge: plant something
week 33 challenge: donate school supplies