Action.

My #1 problem has always been that I think too much and don’t take enough action.

I’ve got a slight obsession with listening to podcasts, reading blog posts, and watching YouTube videos about productivity & personal development. And you know what? I don’t think you would ever know it to look at me.

I have collected so much information about personal development & productivity. I could talk about it all day and if I really committed, I could surely fool someone into thinking that I was some sort of personal development guru.

Photo by britt gaiser 

Sure, I’m no slob. I’m good at my job, my bills get paid, I get by in general… but I am not productive in the ways I would like to be, especially compared to the people I watch, read, and listen to. Inaction has taken over my life.

I’ve given a lot of thought as to why this is. I’ve written many a journal entry on how it feels to be this way. I’ve ruminated on the ways I’d like to change and how I’d actually get there. Finally, I’ve told myself over and over that doing all of that is just as important as making the jump and trying something. (ANYTHING.) And news flash: it is really, really not!!!!!!

I can say that with confidence because reflecting and organizing and researching and collecting ideas is pretty much all I have done for too long a time. And I don’t have sh*t to show for it! How could I?

That is a painful [but important] realization.

I think there has always been this sense that tomorrow is the day I will act and today is the day I will prepare to act.

Enough, I say. Enough!

Showing up.

Yo.

I got married at the end of September! Leading up to the wedding, my mind was all-over-the-frigging-place. I thought that after it was over, my mind would be airy and energized and inspiration would come in droves. What happened instead was that my mind and body (nasty cold came for me) sorta shut down.

Photo by Mark Basarab

I won’t go too deep into why I think this happened. In short, I felt such an enormous sense of relief that all of the planning, worrying and excitement was over that I let myself stop everything and just turn off in a lot of ways.

The problem is that I have been having a heck of a time turning back on. It’s that whole “a body at rest tends to stay at rest” thing, I guess. Well…there has been a lot of rest. Too much.

SURE, it’s been nice as a newlywed to just nest and relax and be cozy. But after a couple months… both my husband and I realized that cozy and relaxed morphs into lazy and semi-depressing sort of easily if you’re not careful. This ain’t living!

I’ve officially launched myself out of whatever form of hibernation I let myself fall into and I’m showing up again. Not only to writing on here but to everything, dammit.

One day, my goal will be to keep myself from falling into ruts entirely. For now, though, I just want to be a superstar at bouncing back.

🙂

Journaling Through An Argument.

It sounds odd but hear me out.

Historically, during frustrating arguments or heated disagreements I’ve done one or all of the following:

  1. Clam up. Much like a roly poly, if poked in the right way at the right time, I’ll turn inward, clam up and zip up. My brain sort of just shuts down. Not good.
  2. Gotten defensive & word-vomity. I snap into defensive mode and without thinking, start doling out comments that I may not even mean. As the words fly out of my mouth, I’ll think “where is THIS coming from?!” or “I don’t think that’s even true!” I get overwhelmed and kinda go haywire. Not good.
  3. Taken forever to bounce back. After arguments or heated exchanges, it can take a loooong time for me to process everything, want to open up again, and/or apologize. Also… not good!

I’ve made it a personal goal this last year to improve myself in this area. I’m an intelligent woman and I should be able to clearly [and calmly] state how I feel & what I think during a disagreement. I don’t want to stay silent and I do not want to say things I don’t really mean. Finally, I want to be able to open up to the other person afterward with a clear head and understanding.

Photo by Jan Kahánek

So, as is my answer to almost everything, I’ve started journaling through it all.

No, I don’t pick up my journal in the middle of an argument. I pick it up after the other party and I go to our separate corners.

My aim with this is to teach myself how to think clearly and thoroughly while feeling angry or frustrated. Also, I always strive to examine things from all sides, so asking myself the following questions allows me to do that more easily.

  • What is it that’s making you angry/frustrated at this very moment?
  • What point were you trying to make before?
  • Do you truly believe in what you were fighting for? WHY do you believe it?
  • Do you have any idea why [the other person] feels the way they feel about this? Can you think of reasons they believe what they believe?
  • Pretend you are the other person. What do you think about the way that YOU are behaving? What do you think about the things that you are saying?
  • Do you feel frustrated that their view is different than yours? Why? Is there room for both?
  • Does your anger stem from something deeper, or is it JUST about this? What else could this possibly be about?
  • How is all of this making you feel physically? Are you tensing up in any areas?
  • Do you truly feel that any of this worth getting heated over?

After I’ve answered some or all of those questions, I feel a bit calmer and my mind feels less chaotic. I have a better understanding of what it is I’m fighting for and why my emotions are so attached to it. Lastly, and sometimes most importantly, I have given myself space to see and hopefully understand the other person’s perspective.

My ultimate goal is to get to a point where I can automatically ask myself these questions internally while I’m engaged with someone. For now, this practice is teaching me a lot.

=)

6 Pleasant Things

I think it’s important to have clarity on what makes you feel good, no matter how small. Not only does it make you more grateful for those things, but it makes it easier to create opportunities to experience/do/have them more.

(1) First cup of coffee in the morning – Having mine as I write this and that is why it’s first on the list. I love the word coffee, I love making it, I love watching the half & half swirl around in my cup and create the dark camel color I aim for, I love the smell of it brewing. I even love audibly saying to myself “time for some coffee!” before I make it… and that sounds cheesy, but I do it because I find it allows me to truly appreciate the goodness that’s about to occur. Then there are those first few sips. PURE [CAFFEINATED] JOY.

(2) Having a deep, meaningful conversation with someone – When I speak with someone, whether they’re a loved one or a new acquaintance, and we’re connecting on every level and they’re giving me so much to think about… that just gets me so buzzed. I love it. I crave it. [Sidenote: I hate small talk. Let’s talk about your work problems or something instead.]

Photo by Clay Banks

(3) Sitting down after I’ve cleaned – The hours of work have been put in, there is no dust anywhere, the air is clear and it smells nice [because most likely, I will have just lit a candle], and everything is exactly where it should be. Sitting down in that sparkling clean environment and admiring my work… if only I could properly convey the feeling of contentment this brings me.

(4) Realizing that I’ve improved or changed in some small way – It often takes time to realize how far I’ve come or the way in which I’ve changed. I absolutely love that moment when it occurs to me and a warm feeling of pride kind of spreads out inside my chest (that’s how it feels – is that weird?). I set out to improve myself or change in some way, and I’ve done just that. It’s wonderful.

(5) Making lists – (…as I make a list.) Getting to-dos or thoughts or feelings down onto paper is so gratifying and it genuinely makes me feel good. Additionally, it is just frigging helpful. [It’s kind of my solution to everything. If someone comes to me talking about how they feel overwhelmed or scared or can’t decide on something, I almost always ask if they’ve made a list.]

(6) My head FINALLY hitting the pillow – It’s been a day, my eyes are closing on their own, and my body is slowly shutting down. The moment my head finally makes contact with that soft, splendid pillow… oh man. I ALWAYS make it a point to take a split second and be thankful for it when it happens.

=)

4 Things I’m Currently Focusing On

Photo by Mr TT

It has gradually become clear to me that I need to have defined areas of focus. If I don’t, I either become overwhelmed and try to focus on too much, or I focus on nothing and stagnate.

Today, I’d like to talk about 4 of the things that I’m working on right now.


THIS BLOG || I don’t have enormous and/or specific aspirations for myself within this platform just yet, but I do know that it’s something I’ll continue to focus on. I love creating. When I hit publish on a post and send my finished product into the world, I feel proud and so content. I also see this as a unique opportunity to engage with like-minded and maybe even more importantly, NON-like-minded people. Finally, I love having yet another excuse to expand my knowledge base and explore interesting topics.

NOT LETTING THINGS PILE UP || I have a natural tendency to let things pile up over time. These days, I am doing things on a more consistent, little-by-little basis. For example: instead of letting laundry pile up for weeks, I’ve been doing smaller loads once or twice a week. It seems to take less time and more importantly, it takes a lot less energy. Doing 7 loads of laundry on a Saturday or Sunday sucks a lot. Plus, I don’t give myself the chance to build up the task in my mind and turn it into something bigger and more unpleasant than it really is.

READING || I didn’t read enough in 2018 and it really bummed me out. I love reading, but if I don’t make it a priority to do so, I find that it will just slip through the cracks. Well, it’s a priority for me again. I make sure to open up my book at least once a day, usually when I crawl into bed. I won’t get into the joys and benefits of reading, I will just say that I am a happier person when I’m in the middle of a book. [I’m currently reading Dune.]

CONCENTRATION || I’m working on my power of concentration. I knew going in that this would be very difficult and it really is, friends. It truly takes practice. I’ve started small with tasks that take 5 minutes or less. For example: if I set out to brew some coffee or do a quick dusting of the bookshelves, I will do that and only that; I won’t pick up my phone in the middle of it and start scrolling through Instagram. Once I feel I’ve mastered this level, I’ll move up.


Of course there are many other things (e.g. my wedding in September!) that have my focus at the moment, but these 4 have had the most significant impact on my happiness and mental health as of late.

Normally I don’t like to preach, but do yourself a favor and take 5 minutes to define some of your areas of focus. I promise, it will help you immensely.

=)

Managing my time on weeknights ( + 3 tips ).

One big [entirely self-imposed] obstacle on the road to positive change has been my tendency to let time slip away from me. Today I want to talk about 2 ways this happens, specifically during the week, and how I’ve been trying to fix it.

Historically, my evenings looked a bit like this: I’d get home from work and sit down for a while (problem #1) before making and eating dinner, and then I’d just relax and watch TV (problem #2), and before I knew it… it was 10PM and I’d be tired and basically useless, and bedtime was upon me.

Problem #1: Sitting down when I get home from work. It took a while but I eventually came to terms with that fact that doing this is bad for me. It takes a long time and a lot of willpower for me to get up again once I’ve succumbed to the couch. 20 minutes will fly by as I sit and dinner has yet to be started. I know I am not alone here; I’ve spoken to others like me.

My solution: I keep moving once I’m in the door and I don’t stop until it’s time to eat dinner. I’m already walking, so why break that bit of momentum I have? I put away my stuff, pet Morty (my cat) for a few minutes, and get working on something. Usually it’s emptying the dishwasher and starting on dinner. Making this tiny change has not been difficult and it has had a great impact.

Problem #2: TV, my ultimate time-sucker. I have to control my TV intake during the week or it will surely control me. If it goes on before I’ve started my after-dinner tasks, I’m in trouble. I will just want to stay glued to it and before I know it, 3 hours have passed.

My solution: Now, on most days, the TV stays off ’til around 7:30 or 8PM. I’ve also instituted “No TV Tuesdays.” By doing these things, I’ve freed up a few hours each week to focus on more worthwhile things. (I’m waayyy behind on so many shows now which totally sucks from a TV lover’s standpoint, but at least I’m being a more productive adult, right?)

Another (and probably my favorite) thing I like to do is set timers for anything and everything. It works as a call-to-action for me and I kinda enjoy racing the clock. Also, knowing there’s a limit keeps me from totally resenting the task at hand because I know there’s an end in sight. If I need to dust, for example (important when you have a cat), I’ll set a 10-20 minute timer and then go be a dustin’ fool. And BONUS: I’ve usually built up so much momentum by the time the alarm sounds that I’ll just continue for a while or I’ll easily move on to something else.

These are small changes but over the course of a couple months, they have totally made a difference. It no longer feels like time is constantly disappearing from me, and I consider that a very big win.

=)

Stalled.

I was so motivated and focused all of last week and through the weekend. I felt generally hopeful, I felt like my creative juices were flowing; I was generally buzzing.

Today, I woke up feeling … none of that. It all just dissolved. Nothing happened between last night and this morning to trigger this (I mean, was asleep). I woke up, and I just felt like I’d suddenly stalled.

When this happens, and it happens to me quite often, I nearly always spiral. The cruddy thoughts slither in and they just keep on slitherin’…

“Told you it wouldn’t last.”

“This always happens.”

“Your motivation always fizzles out. Always. Why are you even surprised?

Admittedly, I’ve grown accustomed to listening to these thoughts when they pop up. It sucks. It is also the #1 reason that I’ve always found it very hard to make changes in my life. Big or small. The second I stall, I allow my awareness to focus on the fact that I’ve stalled, and then I just turn inward and drown in my cruddy self-talk.

I will not give out tips on how to deal with this. I’m slowly finding ways, and I would love to share them some other time, but that isn’t the point of this post. I wanted to write about this simply because it happened. Finding my way to a better self requires that I continue coming terms with my bullshit whenever it presents itself.

=)

Starting somewhere.

Yesterday at work, I had to get up to do something after I’d been sitting at the computer for roughly 30 mins straight. Truthfully, I barely remember the task I needed to get up to accomplish, but I do remember the energy it took to get out of the damn chair. I also remember the thoughts going through my head right before I got up. I’d been trying to convince myself that I didn’t need to get up just then…

“You can probably just do it later, it doesn’t need to get done now.”

“Maybe you can ask so-and-so to do it, it doesn’t really have to be you.”

“I am just tired, I didn’t sleep very well last night, I should give myself a break!”

Wow. It’s remarkable what my brain will come up with to keep me from doing things that I have to do. Is it laziness? Some might call it that, but I don’t. I know lazy, I’ve been lazy, and these instances are not instances of lazy for me. It is a fear of beginning. No matter how simple the task, no matter how quickly it can be completed, I just don’t want to begin it because it’s new and it’s different from the now.

I launched myself out of the chair with so much force; it felt as if the chair itself came alive and was throwing me off of it. I said “OH SHUT UP” to those hesitant, fearful thoughts buzzing around my mind and forced myself up. And then everything was fine. The whole experience was probably about 8 seconds from start to finish, but it stuck with me because it is such a perfect example of beginnings.

I want this blog to be a genuine reflection and expression of one person launching themselves up and out of their comfort zones (of which there are many) in order to change into the person they want to be. It’s happening little by little, but it is happening.

=)

Life in the slow lane.

Photo by Red Zeppelin

Change happens slowly over time for most people, from what I’ve read and heard and seen. For whatever reason, though, I feel like I’m slower to change than most (feel being the operative word, I suppose).

I’m in my early 30s and only now have I begun to evolve in the ways I really want to evolve. Is it for lack of trying, or lack of self-awareness? Absolutely not, friend.

In this tiny corner of the internet, I’ll talk about my ongoing, frustratingly slow journey to becoming the person I’d like to be and how [great/shitty] it feels along the way. I’ll cover the fizzle-out moments, those delicious renewed-sense-of-purpose moments, the feeling-like-I-have-NO-purpose moments, the overwhelm, the small revelations, etc.

But why does this need to be is a blog?

Short answer: because I myself would love to read about someone else on a similar path, who feels the way I do, and how they go about dealing with it day after day. I have to assume at least a few other people would too.

=)