BATTLING A CRUDDY THOUGHT.

I had a big written list of limiting thoughts that were preventing me from starting this blog. I worked through it, reflecting on everything, and eventually got to a place where I’d confidently crossed off all but ONE

EVENTUALLY, I WILL RUN OUT OF INTERESTING THINGS TO WRITE ABOUT!

Photo by Brandi Redd

This thought burrowed into my mind and set up freaking camp. It felt like a bad commercial jingle that got stuck in my head, just looping and looping (I’ve heard this phenomenon referred to as an “ear worm,” which is the perfect name for it). No matter what I did, no matter how many ideas for posts I came up with, I couldn’t shake it.

My head was really being messed with.

I decided that the best thing for me to do would be to stop thinking about blogging and writing for a while. During that time, if a blog post idea popped into my head, I’d bat it away. That seems counter productive, but I wanted to make sure that I got enough distance from it all so that I could break the obnoxious loop.

RESUME BLOG WORK” day rolled around (because yes, I had made an official entry in my calendar). I sat with my journal and thought about the 2 weeks that had passed. I thought about the conversations I had, the things I’d learned, the movies I watched, the walks I took with my boyfriend, and so on and so forth.

A warm and fuzzy realization suddenly settled into my being. It wasn’t so much one specific thought, but a group of thoughts all coming to the same [warm, fuzzy] conclusion. I wrote them down as they surfaced. 

  • Infinite.
  • There’s an enormous number of things for me to experience.
  • My mind/awareness is a deep well that grows deeper every day as I experience and learn more.
  • I once read that your creativity is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it gets.
  • I encompass too much. I can’t run out of things to write about.
Photo by Harli Marten

I knew all I needed to know. There are SOOO MANY things to write about and more importantly, SOOO MANY ways to write about those things.

I was relieved. I’d kicked that sucker to the curb.

Sometimes, a thought is just a thought. It enters the mind for NO specific reason, and may have absolutely nothing to do with what you know to be true. I think in this case, it was like my mind’s last ditch effort to keep me from doing something new. Whatever the reason was, I didn’t have to listen.

I will be honest, sometimes it feels as though that thought is still kinda hanging out in the periphery of my mind, waiting to strike when I find myself in a low moment… but now I know how to smash it.

=)

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.

=)

Constant connection.

Photo by Andrew Guan 

I love my phone. It keeps me connected to my family and friends, it keeps me aware of current events, it provides me with inspiration whenever I might need it, and it gives me instant access to interesting [or deliciously useless] information. I hate my phone for all of the same reasons.


>>> Personal phone history: Most of my friends got a phone in 2001, right after 9/11. Our high school was just outside Manhattan, so a lot of parents wanted their kids to have one for emergencies. At that point I really didn’t care whether I got one, and since I was rarely by myself, my parents figured it wasn’t necessary. Cut to December 2004 when cell phones became MUCH more common– I wanted one pretty bad and my parents very kindly obliged. They gave me a cuuute silver flip-phone for my birthday. Loved that thing! All you could really do with it was call, text, calculate, and play games. It was simpler then. Picture it with me, folks. Anyway, about 5 years later, I got my first smartphone and I’d say that’s when the love/hate relationship really began.<<<


When I contemplate my cell phone usage, I remind myself of the fact that I existed without one for 17 years, and without a smartphone for even longer. I also think about what that really means. What is it that I really went without until then? The main thing that comes to mind is constant connection.

While I am very grateful that my loved ones and I are so available to each other [for support, for emergencies, and for FUN], being constantly connected to them gets really overwhelming for me sometimes. My current struggles with this:

  • I feel guilty if I don’t answer in a timely manner, so it feels like I’m always texting in order to stay caught up. I don’t want to be on my phone that much, so finding a good balance has proven tough for me.
  • It can be tiring to be part of multiple conversations at once, and I get very invested when it comes to my friends and family. It’s important to me that each person knows that I’ve really heard them. So, I often wait until I can fully pay attention and respond thoughtfully. This sometimes causes a pile-up of open threads that leave me feeling kind of anxious.
  • Just the thought of being available to so many people [and even having them available to me] is overwhelming. I am not so sure that this is a state we should all constantly be in.
Photo by israel palacio 

I have instant access to information. Whenever I want to, I can hop on my phone and see what’s currently unfolding in the world. If I’d like, I can read and learn ALL about the mechanics or the history of- well, almost anything. It is absolutely fantastic, but there is a degree of pressure that comes along with it for me. My thinking is that because I have so much valuable information available to me, I feel like I should be accessing it often. I do take advantage of it, but I’m always asking myself if it’s enough. Uncle Ben’s quote “with great power comes great responsibility” comes to mind. There is so much power and knowledge at my fingertips 24/7, but do I use it well and responsibly?

Some might read all of this and think “wow, she’s thinking about this waaaay too much.” I don’t think I am. I believe everyone should be giving at least some degree of thought to how they use their technology each day. For me, there always seems to be an ebb and flow when it comes to my phone usage. I’ll get a handle on it for a time, but then it just gets away from me and I’m forced to have this conversation with myself and reign it back in again. I hope that I’ll eventually find the secret sauce for this but until that time comes, I will keep questioning and experimenting.

Really, at the end of the day, this a terrific problem to solve.

=)

Keeping it light.

Part of what inspired me to write this was another post on the blog Untangled called “My mind is tired of mindfulness“. It’s a great, short read; go for it!


I ponder over my personal development a lot (hence this blog), and I know I’m just one of many. It’s no wonder that this is the case considering “Personal Development” and “Productivity” and “Life Hacking” and aaaall that jazz is enormously popular these days. Bestsellers about nurturing effective habits crop up [what feels like] every other week, articles on powerful morning routines seem to publish every hour, and blog posts about all of the above are popping up more and more frequently (like this one!).

Once a person starts down the road of personal development (there’s that phrase again!), mindfulness, and other things of that nature, it can become difficult to stop. Some of what you’ll read and hear all over this realm are things like:

Consistency is key.

Good habits form when you make small changes every day.

You will see a difference when you are willing to put in the work.

Consistency. Every day. Work.

I’ll state the obvious here… I don’t disagree with any of these statements. I’m simply pointing to the fact that it’s not a wonder that people get swept up in this stuff so quickly, or that they feel guilty and maybe a little paranoid when they give it a rest. If you break the consistency, if you break your streak, if you stop the work for X amount of time, will you immediately slide back and find yourself stuck again? That’s a question I’ve certainly asked myself and to be honest, I do think that sometimes the answer is yes. For me, that will have to be okay.

Some may disagree, of course, which is great. Everyone has different circumstances and goals, everyone processes change differently, and everyone works at different paces and in different ways (even if all these differences are subtle). All of us cannot possibly be on the same exact page when it comes to something so personal as personal development.

Photo by Carolyn V 

I just need a break from it sometimes, and it’s really as simple as that. I’m the type of person that turns inward very easily, and if I spend too much time there, things start to get very exhausting and fuzzy. As long as my breaks (ranging from an hour to a day to a couple days) are completely intentional, I am golden. If I start to let things slip a little bit at a time, day after day, without thinking and without having a reason behind it, that’s when trouble ensues-but I won’t get into that. Today, I’m choosing to keep it light! And now I think I’ll go make a nice cup of tea like the one in this really pretty photo.

=)

Why I’ve kept myself from setting goals.

Photo by Bekir Dönmez

For most of my life, I’d never been one to set big goals or “dream big”. In a journal entry a few weeks ago, I asked myself flat-out why I think that is. I was able to clarify at least a couple of reasons, and I’d like to share them. Perhaps others can relate!

  1. Envy. Until my early to mid-20s, which is when I began to gain some wisdom in this area, I always envied people that had “a lot” – a lot of money, a big gorgeous home, great beauty, great confidence, great talent, etc. The envy ran pretty deep and it is only recently that I realized how much I let it control me. Though I never begrudged anyone their happiness or good fortune, I put them on a very high pedestal in my mind. The gap I felt between myself and “them” widened over time and it ended up feeling like more of a weight. In my misguided attempt to lift this weight, I guess I somehow convinced myself that I would simply never have what they had. I convinced myself that those people were just lucky, I wasn’t, and that was that. I wouldn’t even let myself imagine what it would feel like to have what they had (and I specifically remember saying that so many times- “wow, I can’t even IMAGINE!”). It’s not that I couldn’t, I just wouldn’t. [Important sidenote: I have fantastic, supportive parents. They never, ever told me that anything was out of my reach. Introvert that I am – I hardly expressed or discussed the envy that I had with anyone for so long, out of embarrassment maybe (?) or to preserve my pride (?), so I think it just quietly chipped away at a part of me.]
  2. Depression. I’m prone to it, and one of the symptoms is the inability to clearly envision a future. I believe this symptom, which I’ve experienced MANY times in various depressive slumps, managed to stick to my every day thought patterns.
  3. Overthinking. This one is sort of related to the other two, but I felt it was worth clarifying. If I have the beginnings of an idea about my future and what I could possibly do with it, I’m able to talk myself out of it pretty quickly. I think about the reasons it may not work and sure enough, I become fearful and want to climb back into my comfort zone.

The abundance other people have has absolutely no bearing on my goal for more abundance in my life. I know this now.

If I hit a depressive slump, I try to journal my thoughts & feelings and keep them confined in there. I remind myself that what I feel during those times isn’t always real; that the depression is hogging my attention. I cannot allow it to follow me.

As for the problem of overthinking: I’m working on it! I’m working on my ability to concentrate and my ability to control my awareness. Like anything else, this takes practice, but I am already reaping the rewards. [I highly recommend this YouTube video about the power of concentration: Dandapani: Controlling Your Awareness]

Gaining clarity on why I haven’t set big goals for myself has been enormously helpful. I’ve been able to combat my unhealthy thought patterns and obstacles because I know exactly what I’m up against. At this point, I can confidently say that envisioning a future and dreaming up great, big, wonderful goals has never felt easier.

=)