Each month, my friend Bob Borson over at Life of an Architect organizes a group of architect bloggers to coordinate a single post on a single topic released simultaneously on a specific day. We call it #ArchiTalks. Read posts from past topics on Google, Twitter and Facebook, by searching for the hashtag #ArchiTalks .
For the past several months, I have been releasing my #ArchiTalks thoughts via podcast, but today I decided to come back to the keyboard. If you are interested, you can listen to my to previous contributions at episode 37, episode 48 and episode 54.
Since January 1, I have been working to establish new habits to help me grow intellectually, spiritually and physically. Each morning, before the sun (or children) rise, I light the fireplace, sit quietly and write. Each morning, my goal is to write 500 words. I have no fixed topic or intent for the exercise other than building a new habit.
Establishing a daily habit of writing, allows me to explore my thoughts and express my feelings each day. Much of what I write could be considered journaling; where I document the events of the previous day and consider the day before me. Some days I just write. I may just let the words flow out of my mind into Evernote, where I save each entry tagged with the phrase 500 Words. In fact, this post began life as a 500 Word routine entry.
This exercise takes about 30 minutes to complete and is now part of my daily morning routine. It’s becoming one of my favorite things to do each day.
This month, Bob’s topic for #ArchiTalks is Favorite Things.
I thought about what I wanted to share here and considered writing about my favorite tools for productivity (get Evernote), my favorite places (like the St. Lawrence River), my favorite toys (like my 1969 Camaro) or my favorite toys that I have not yet acquired (like my 40’ offshore powerboat… ah, maybe someday).
After much consideration, I decided to go simple; very simple.
Today, I want to share my 6 favorite things I do each day, like my new daily habit of writing.
I am going to share these things in order of occurrence each day, so I want to make it clear that these are not in order of preference or importance : )
So here we go…
Before my daily habit of writing 500 words each morning, I “drag myself from the cocooning depths of slumber” (that’s Annmarie’s suggested description) at 4:43AM. I set the alarm to that odd time so that I may rise to music rather than the “bad news report”. I head down the stairs while everyone in the house sleeps. Hydrating my brain with a tall glass of water, I grab my iPhone and earbuds, light the fireplace and sit symmetrically on the couch across from the flames.
I have recently discovered meditation.
Never have I even considered meditation in the past. It has always sounded a bit too “new age” for me, but as my responsibilities increase and my calendar maxes out, so do my levels of stress. I work hard to keep my stress managed, but recently I have seen some negative effects on my health. After dozens of tests and several doctor visits, I have been given a clean bill of health, but the stress remains, along with its side effects.
I needed to find a solution and meditation sounded like it was worth a try.
Each morning I listen to one of several guided meditation podcasts. During the first 20 to 30 minutes of my day, I go deep. I find my stress and worries and pressures, and I release them through meditation… and it’s working.
I have always had a strong sense of intuition and a firm grasp of my inner feelings, so mediation comes very naturally. This early morning ritual has very quickly become a favorite time of my day.
As the sun is rising, I serve breakfast to the kids and hurry them off to the school bus. Just before they head out the door, Annmarie joins us to say good bye.
Annmarie and I each have our roles, at both the firm as well as with our family. It’s why we’ve had a successful partnership at Fivecat Studio since 1999 and why we have such a strong, happy marriage. We each use our strengths, each contributing to our success.
Another reason that we enjoy such a successful partnership is that we work hard at it. We are intentional on growing and supporting one another throughout the day, every day.
Every morning, I give Annmarie a good strong hug. It’s a great way to start our morning. It fuels the energy between us and is a reminder that we are one. It’s a simple gesture, but a very powerful force. Hugging Annmarie each morning is one of my favorite things.
A Hot Shower
The second half of my stress-relieving health initiative is to get out and move more. Since relocating back to the home office and adopting our new virtual studio business model, its easy to stagnate. My studio is now about 25 feet from my breakfast table. It would be simple to never move again… and for a few months, that is exactly what happened. My calendar filled up and my free time for exercise evaporated. My arms and legs quickly reacted and I found myself with a painful consequence.
As I turn 45 years old, I have shifted my mindset to realize that exercise is not something to “fit in” among my free time. My health must be my first priority. It must come before everything else. If I am not healthy, every other responsibility, every other role, every other goal will be negatively effected. Health is a keystone. Without it, everything else will fall to the ground.
I’ve been walking for exercise, on and off, for years, but this year I’ve stepped it up a level. This year I set a goal of running a distance of 3.1 miles (that’s the distance of a 5K) by the end of the year. I’ve attempted to run in the past, but have always stopped after a few hundred yards. The pounding on my lower legs would cause my shins pain almost instantly. I felt clumsy and awkward so I never worked through it.
This year, with my new goal set, I hit YouTube to learn what I was doing wrong. Apparently running is not something that comes naturally. With a few tweaks to my stride, I was on my way. Less than two weeks in, and several off days due to ice and snow on the trail, I am almost meeting my goal. Five kilometers will happen much sooner than I ever imagined.
After a morning of endorphin pumping movement, I head home for a hot shower. The simple things in life are some of my favorite things. A long hot shower regenerates me. It warms my aching muscles and stimulates my mind. Some of my very best ideas have come to me during a hot shower. A long hot shower is one of my favorite times each day.
Connecting With Others
I have always enjoyed helping others. Even the simple moment of providing directions to a lost traveler will fill my brain with enough oxytocin to fuel my day with joy and positivity. Guiding others to success just feels good to me.
It’s why I launched Entrepreneur Architect. It’s why I share these posts and publish each podcast episode . It’s why I work to connect with so many architects through social media and in person at events like AIA Convention. The more I connect, the more I can share. As I share, more connections are made. As my network of connections grows, I have more opportunity to help others.
Connecting with you and many others in the Entrepreneur Architect Community is one of my favorite things to do each day.
If you want to connect with me and many others in the Entrepreneur Architect community, come join me at the new EntreArchitect Community Facebook Group . It’s free and open to all architects and architecture students throughout the world. This new group has just launched this week, so be among the first to join. I hope to see you there.
Kissing My Kids Good Night
After a long day at Fivecat Studio… after a nice warm meal with my family, the kids head to bed and Annmarie and I have a few minutes to stop and relax. We read or write or catch a few minutes of recorded television on the DVR. (We haven’t seen a TV commercial in over a year.) Coming together as a couple, without the kids around, at the end of the day is another reason our relationship thrives.
Around 9 or 10 o’clock, Annmarie heads to bed and I shut down the house. I lock the doors, shut the lights and kiss the kids good night. I have performed this ritual every night since my oldest son was born more than thirteen years ago. I cover them with their blankets, tuck them in tight and give them a kiss as they sleep. It’s our signal that the day is officially over and it is my favorite thing to do each day.
My Warm Bed
As I settle into my own bed, already warmed by Annmarie, I am reminded about how blessed I am. I have a warm comfortable bed. It’s a simple pleasure. It is, most certainly, a privilege.
As I slip under the covers, so many others in this world are sleeping without beds or seeking warmth on the streets, settling down for the evening on cold hard concrete. I thank God for my many blessings. I thank Him for these simple things in my life; the things that fill the space in between my goals and accomplishments. A healthy mind and body, a loving family, connecting with others and acknowledging the amazing life that God has granted me. These are my favorite things.
Read More From My #ArchiTalks Friends
Marica McKeel – Studio MM
A Few of My Favorite Things
Jeff Echols – Architect Of The Internet
How I Get Through My Day: My Favorite Things
Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect
favorite things (at least a few)
Rosa Sheng – Equity by Design / The Missing 32% Project
When the Dog Bites and Bee Stings; Favorite Things
Meghana Joshi – IRA Consultants, LLC
These are a few of my favorite things..
Evan Troxel – Archispeak Podcast / TRXL
My Favorite Things
Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC
My Favorite Things: the pieces of my story
Amy Kalar – ArchiMom
My 10 Favorite Things
Matthew Stanfield – FiELD9: architecture
A Day in the Life of FiELD9: architecture
Cormac Phalen – Cormac Phalen
Nicholas Renard – Cote Renard Architecture
Favorite Things – Just a Few
Gratitude is a great favorite thing!
Abiodun Solanke, Abraham says
Nice one and well balanced Mark! Indeed simple acts…i was looking forward to reading stuffs like getting your “to do list” accomplished for the day. These simple acts are the very reason and essence of life…they will rather take stress off you ans make life fun everyday.
Lora Teagarden (@L2DesignLLC) says
Sounds like you’re setting up some good habits! How’s meditation going? I feel like I’d either not be able to get my brain to slow down, or fall back asleep because I actually succeeded in doing so.
Mark- great list and post. I love the simplicity of it. What a great way to compress the most important parts of the day. This might be the best inspiration I have for the week ahead!
My gosh Mark, we seen to be living lives on parallel planes several hundred miles apart. I could easily scratch your name from this, add mine, hand it to my wife and she’d know it was me. The meditation for me spawned from an overload of stress as well. Hope it is working as well for you as it has been for me.
I really enjoyed that you focus on the simple things. It is a great reminder of what is really important.
This was my “favorite” entrearchitect post yet!
Mark R. LePage says
Julie: You made my week! Thanks for taking the time to let me know that you liked it. Have a great weekend.