Wasting paper and killing trees

I spent some time Tuesday morning listening to podcasts with writers. In the meantime, I dusted off the boxes in my office and decided to put some order to my journals. As some of you know, writing for me is somewhat a compulsion. It is a non-optional part of my daily practice.

journals 1992-1999.jpg
1992-1999

I hand write my journal. I am old-fashioned that way. The ideas that pour forth with a nice smooth pen on paper seem qualitatively different than what I write when I sit down to the keyboard. More raw. Less pre-meditated. Just me.

My intended audience for these journals is just me. I made my college roommate  promise me that if anything happened to me she would have the journals burned without reading them.

I was a little embarrassed when I started sorting the piles of journals into decades. The sheer volume of the once-blank books that span the last 26 years astonished me. Think of all the wasted paper! All those poor trees have been sacrificed for my greedy writing habit…Then I was kind of amazed. I started to wonder about the periods when I had been faithful to journal at least weekly, or other periods when journals were either lost or not kept.

journals-2000-2011.jpg
2000-2011

What happened to 2008-2009? No journals from that time. Mysterious.

Did I start journal-writing prior to 1992, the year I left home to go to Swarthmore College? I have a cute little lock & key style diary from when I was about 7 years old, a  that I probably got from my Mom.

I decided to document via photos the journals I have kept. This is as much to illustrate my insanity as to be able to let go of these books at some point, as per my desire to live a more minimalist life.

My collection from 2018 includes 15 blank books (so far, since I just started #16 today). That is really embarrassing. But I suppose in a way, it is something I can embrace. I write. My days flow better when I write each day. I also seem to have less insomnia when I let it all out rather than letting it simmer.

journals 2018
2018 alone – seriously?!?

When then if I want to work on a big project, a book idea? Do I keep writing? Do I perhaps use my journal as the “reward system” for after I’ve gotten my daily pages and work done?

Clearly it’s a habit that’s not going away. It feels like a lifeline to me, and I am sure I would need to spend a LOT more on therapy if I were NOT writing each day. Come to think of it, the gaps in my “years” of journals actually correspond to episodes of major transitions and/or clinical depression in my life: 1995, 2002, 2009.

Wow. Sh*t. Ages 21, 28 and 35. It seems I was due for an episode in 2016 at age 42, but it never arrived. I am giving credit to my consistent pile of journals and some proactive therapy. When you have tasted that flavor of darkness more than once you sometimes recognize the signs before it arrives again. Self-care is now a religion for me.

I told and AirBnB host back in September: I write because I must. Indeed. Apologies to the trees that sacrificed their lives for my mental health. And everlasting gratitude to you.

cumulative journals 1992-2018.jpg
The complete pile. Those top two huge piles in the left corner are 2017-2018.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

 

 

 

On the graceful “no”

I interviewed on Wednesday for another freelance project job that sounded interesting when I read it, but I have some doubts now. 

My impression is that the amount of work it would take to complete the project is far more than the client has budgeted or was clear in the posting. While I really like the concept for the book, and I thought the research could be interesting, I have some intuition that this may be more than I bargained for in my proposal.

I explained in my call that my proposal was based on the notion that there would be a draft manuscript produced by the client in a few weeks, as indicated in the description, and that I would work with that material. While he seemed excited about my background and skills, and thought I might be a good fit for the research aspect of the project, my internal doubt-meter started sending me a subtle flare of warning.

Then a little while after the call, he messaged to ask for my information outside the platform where we connected, and requested some free work (a small task but we have not yet agreed on contract terms, so it is against policy). Another warning flare. 

The people-pleasing part of me hates to say no to people, especially when they seem excited to work with me. But something about this project seems as though, while an interesting topic, could become a burden.  The client has some unrealistic ideas about what “ghost writing” entails. After I did some research on the market for this, I believe I under-valued the time this will take. 

As I always do when making important decisions, I will sleep on it and allow my subconscious to reveal any insights that will help me make a final decision. But right now I am mentally crafting a professional and respectful “no” because I truly believe we must pay attention to our intuition on these matters.

Saying “no” to some good things allows room for greater things. It may not be fun, and it is uncomfortable. But I am willing to feel the discomfort and do the right thing. Indeed, living in my integrity requires it.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Input fatigue

‘Tis the season for me. I can feel it. 

Countless emails in my inbox imploring me to get in on Cyber-Monday deals… that feeling of trying to filter it all out but feeling that it has clogged up my internal operating system somehow.

My plan is to give myself extra quiet time tonight, wind down early and allow for some rest from it all. My body and mind feel tired. What I have learned in my last couple of years is to honor that call for rest. 

The beautiful discovery about this rest, when I take it, is that I discover nothing falls apart when I take that time away. It is all still there when I return, though usually I have fresh perspective on it. 

How often do you turn everything off and allow for rest? What happens as a result?

Post eaten

Hi folks,

My blog post I was writing last night appeared to be “eaten” by WordPress. It would not save and it would not post. And this morning, it is clear that it is lost. Ah well. Not all words are precious. There are more to be found and generated.

dog eating paper.JPG
Photo credit link

But that is okay. Pauses happen. Life does not always flow along without any glitches. Systems fail, and flat tires happen. The quality of our lives is determined by how well we accept and stay with the circumstances of our lives, rather than add suffering by wishing things had not happened.

Acceptance is the first step toward equanimity.

Hope you have a great day and week!

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Wellness Wednesday: Avoid energy vampires

Happy Halloween!

Today seems like the perfect day to cover the topic of energy vampires. When you first read the title, did you get an image in your mind of anyone in particular in your life? Or an activity that can feel like a “vampire” – sucking the life-blood or energy out of you?

In my experience people or activities can function in ways that give us energy, or sometimes deplete energy. Sometimes this effect is not a result of the person specifically, but perhaps some thoughts we have about the person. For example, we all know that person who constantly complains about their lives. Nothing ever goes right for them. They are victims and life is unfair.

dracula
Photo credit link

When we allow some compassion for them, acknowledging their sadness or distress, sometimes it can feel like they “feed” off our sympathy and continue to engage in their sad soliloquy. Other times, we want to cheer them up, so we do a “Tigger/Eeyore” type of interaction, which makes neither person feel better in the end. For me, I allow for empathy, but also acknowledge to myself that I am not the cause of their distress. While I may want to alleviate their suffering, sometimes it is better just to be a compassionate witness, and then move on.

Some activities can feel like energy vampires as well. For me, shopping for clothes has always been an energy-draining prospect. I don’t enjoy it, and I order nearly everything online. Sometimes I do need to go out and shop, but I find myself much happier when I minimize that activity. I also find it easier on the wallet not to shop for things I do not need!

What I find is that when I fill my time with people and activities that increase my energy, I have a lot less time for the others. It may not be possible to avoid them entirely. But it is important to make space for the vitality that comes from being around people, ideas, and activities that energize rather than drain.

Consider the people who fill you with energy, or the activities that bring you joy. How can you spend more time with these people, and do more of these activities? You may need to get creative with this question. I dare you to have fun with it.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

Energy depletion or renewal

On Wednesday I had an interview for a technology company that I like, but in a retail environment that would be a different experiences for me. On paper, it seemed very exciting. I liked considering the advantages of this part-time opportunity. I believed it would allow me to ramp up my other efforts a little more mindfully and without rushing.

The interview went well, and I even advanced to the next round with a higher leader in the organization. But as I was considering the nature of the work environment, and my preference for adequate personal space and solitude in every day, my body felt a noticeable depletion of energy rather than excitement.

low energy warning
Photo credit link

I’d been excited the day before about getting called so quickly for the in-person interview after the phone interview. I am eager to learn the technology, and to help people use it better, the original reason I pursued the position. Also, they were seeking bilingual Spanish speakers and it would be an opportunity to keep my skills sharp. But the thought of an 8-hour shift “out in the open” on a retail floor made me feel drained and tired.

That is okay. I would not necessarily have been able to visualize and imagine myself in the setting to consider whether it is a fit without actually being there and observing. My body is giving me signals to help me figure out the next steps for myself. Typically when I pay attention to my energy levels, and move in the direction where the energy lifts rather than falls, I am happier.

I thought that learning and practicing sales and marketing techniques would be good for my own business. But there are other ways to do this, and I will not give up on that idea.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

 

 

 

 

Wellness Wednesday – plan time for fun

I mean it, schedule fun into each week, each day, maybe even in every hour if that is possible.

It is not optional. Fun feeds your creativity.

I used to take breaks to play and rest only when I had “earned” them through doing enough work. Probably that daughter-of-an-immigrant work ethic that many of us inherited. Work all day and then you can earn your fun.

But what it we turned that on its head?

Play at intervals, rest at intervals. Work deeply, but do so in a focused and paced way. 

Those of us with focus issues might prefer the “sprint/break” approach: work in 45 minute blocks with no interruptions (including email, social media or other distractions) and then get up and move, dance or walk for 15 minutes.

whimsical cat print
Whimsical cat print on Etsy

Others who like to work for longer stretches might work for 90 minutes take a 30 minute break. Most research says that the maximum focus for most humans sitting at one time without moving is about 70-80 minutes. Honor that. In the era of social media, it is likely substantially less, according to Cal Newport.

Knowledge work often requires sitting at a desk for long stretches, or enduring endless teleconferences that sometimes make you want to stab your eye out with a pencil (not speaking personally, of course).

What if you took a playful attitude toward work? You can inject a little creativity and some cartoons or funny videos into your (dreadful) required Powerpoint presentations. (I feel your pain. I have been there.)

One of my favorite wise teachers, Brene Brown says that “Creativity not expressed is not benign. It metastasizes.” Heed that wisdom. Plan some fun and some whimsy into your day. Your work will be re-energized and you will deliver at a higher level.

I dare you.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

Saturday Share – Brooke Castillo

Hello Peeps!

This version of the Saturday Share will be a bit different than the usual blog share. I want to give a shout-out to a podcast I have been listening to for 2 years now (though it has been around for ~4.5 years). It is called the Life Coach School podcast, hosted by Brooke Castillo.

Life coach school podcast
cribbed from the Life Coach School podcast page

Back in 2016 when I was getting a handle on my eating issues, and also cutting back on drinking, a friend recommended this show to me. Brooke has coached many women on weight loss for over 10 years, but she expanded to include many other topics over time.

Brooke gave up drinking a couple of years ago herself and had series of 3 podcasts called “stop over-drinking” which were awesome and well worth the listen.

Brooke explains how our thoughts drive our emotions, our emotions drive our actions and our actions create our results. Understanding how this works has led to many “ah ha” moments for me.  She presents a model for thought management (adapted from positive psychology and cognitive behavioral therapy) so clearly and effectively that I look forward to hearing to this weekly bit of wisdom.

Podcasts tend to come and go in my App. There are some I like (see my audio philes page) and others where I find the hosts to be annoying. Brooke Castillo can be a little much for some people. But I love the way she breaks down complex psychology topics and makes them easy to apply to daily life.

If you love podcasts and want a “life coach in your pocket” check this one out. She promotes only her coaching programs, so there’s not any unrelated annoying ad content in her shows. While I have never attended her programs live (a little out of my price range) I purchased an e-book from her a couple years ago that I enjoyed as well.

Cheers & happy weekend,

cristy@meximinnesotana.com