Giving Permission

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Did you notice?

It’s been 3 weeks since I gave myself 2 weeks to finish On the Road.

I’m full of reasons why it’s taken too long to write about it; but let’s break it down and be real, shall we?

TRUTH: I’m disappointed that I’ve spent 150% of the time I intended to spend on this book, and I’m only 66% of the way through it.

TRUTH: I spent 7 days traveling for work, missing out on my typical train-commute where I spend most of my time reading.

TRUTH: The above line is an excuse.

TRUTH: I’m not disappointed that I opted to spend time yesterday doing a long run instead of reading a book I’m not really into.

Did you see that? My priorities have displayed themselves in my actions. So, as this title suggests, I gave myself permission to break the strict guidelines and give myself an extra week to finish the book. (Is it breaking them if I never held to them? You decide).

The book hasn’t really drawn me in. It hasn’t hooked me or made it impossible to put down. I don’t find myself anxious in the evenings  to pick it up and resume the tale. It fascinates me, and I’m trying to pick apart the pieces that make it so notable and historic, but honestly, I’m disappointed.

At the risk of sounding feminist, I’m finding myself annoyed at the writing of ALL OF THE female characters. While I can get sucked into the adventure and rush of the unexpected, I feel like a little piece of me writes the book off a little more each time I read about another abandoned wife.

Because I absolutely hate failing (it’s a flaw), I’m going to finish this dang book. It’s going against the entire principal of the exercise, but I’m doing it. I’m also giving myself two weeks to finish Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safram Foer. So that’s 1.3 books in 2 weeks, when I only finished .6 book in 3 weeks. This post just got strangely mathematical.

Somewhere above, I tried to make the transition where I come full circle and bring together the title of this post. Long-windedly, I’m giving myself permission to break the rules and adjust as I find my way on this journey. This blog is by no means a guide; it’s a place for me to talk about my journey: what works, what doesn’t, and how I decide what qualifies “working.”

A Summary: Set goals, adjust, and make sure they’re attainable. Make space for the priorities in your life by giving yourself permission to let the less important things go. I can’t do it all, but what I can do is make sure that I’m making space for the most important things that add the most value.

Pick Three

The other day, a friend and female business owner posted an article on Facebook titled Work, Sleep, Family, Fitness, and Friends: Pick 3. It was an article based on a statement from Randi Zuckerberg, sister to the Facebook guru and former Director of Market Development turned entrepreneur. As is customary, the comments displayed a colorful array of opinions.

I was the first comment, “Yes. This.” I felt happy that someone with influence was sharing that you can’t do it ALL. Put it out into the world: to do things well means sacrificing other things – for the sake of sanity and also for the sake of integrity. In the comments, this woman piped up calling Randi an “enabled coat-tailer” which made me sad; why would you make such a crass generalization about a woman you don’t know at all? Then another woman stated “Clearly they haven’t met me – I do it all!” She (somehow) (and I’m not making this up – literally she said this) is a single mom, wakes up and makes her kid breakfast, works a regular job until 5, gets her kid, does some evening activity like a park or a walk, then makes dinner, reads with her kid, puts her to bed, then she runs her business by answering emails/setting appointments, works weekends as a wedding hair/makeup artist, yet somehow makes time for friends, exercise, and get enough sleep to feel rested.

I call bullshit.

I assume some of the following is at play here:

a) call up her friends and they’ll tell you they barely see her b) she looks haggard and tired all the time c) her idea of being fitness-conscious is her evening walks with the kid? d) her business isn’t really lucrative

I’m not saying this to be an asshole, I promise. I think this is a textbook definition of that “busy” trap you keep seeing in articles on NYT or huffpost. Maybe she has to do all work to make enough income – but I can’t believe her personal time, social life, or health aren’t sacrificed to achieve the full time job + part time business (and single mom) responsibilities.

I say all of this because I’m reflecting on the fact that personally, I can’t do it all. Well, I can’t do it all well. I like being good at things. Because I can knit, run, shoot (decent) photos, sew fairly well, I like to write, freelance, and want to start my own business doesn’t mean I can do them all. I’m learning to accept that’s okay. Focus on the things I love most – the few most important things (family, fitness, work – those are my 3) – and be stellar. The rest? They’re just not a priority. There is nothing wrong with that.

The success rate of Cold Turkey

Let’s be real here, cold turkey has a success rate of about 3% (don’t quote me). My case studies include:

  • New year’s resolutions
  • My attempt at a capsule wardrobe
  • My “write an album in the month of February” goal that I tried for the last 3 years, despite the fact that I can barely write 1 song per year for those other months (sigh)

This blog is totally (hopefully) going to help keep me honest in this journey of removing the crap from my life that keeps me from living the life I want to live – but if I’m setting myself up for success, I need to snap out of the delusion that this is going to happen with the stroke of my keyboard and the camera shutter of my iPhone.

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Let’s start small, shall we? The Bookshelf.

I am absolutely not the minority when I say I have a weird unjustified attachment to (the contents of) my bookshelf. I love the feel of a good paperback, the smell of crisp pages, the look of an un-bent spine. I love tangible progress – so I cherish the change in balance from the “unread” to the “read” side of an open book. I’m obsessed with cover art and will buy multiple copies of my favorite books with different covers, collecting different sets of notes in the margins for each time I read it. Sound familiar?

But if we’re sticking to the theme of being real with ourselves, how many of the books on your bookshelf make your heart swoon so strongly as the passion in that descriptive love letter I just penned for the paperback book? Probably not many. I learned this like a smack in the face during my recent move.

One of my bookshelves was sacrificed during the move, which meant that when I unpacked I had to find a new system for organizing them. I had to decide which books might temporarily remain in the cardboard box and which books got to be on display. I quickly learned I could fill a whole shelf of unread books. Some I had only had for a couple months, some I had had for years. Some I had started 3-5 times but could never get through. Why am I holding on to these?!

So in my attempt to have less and do more by getting rid of the things that don’t add value to my life, I’m going to begin by plowing my way through that “unread” shelf that is busting at each end. Each book gets 2 weeks – if it’s not done, I shouldn’t waste any more time (or space) on it. I can accept that it’s not for me and send it on its way. Up first: the classic On the Road by Jack Keuroac himself. See you in two weeks.

 

I haven’t started because I need to start

I’m so excited to be here, now, telling you this. It’s something I’ve been thinking over for months. On the corner of my notebooks and on scrap paper, I sketch up ideas for posts and content. So many times I do something and I think to myself, “that would be perfect on the blog!” Yet, I haven’t even started. Which is exactly why I need to start.

This place is my place to be creative. So many times, we get lost in the lists and requirements of life. I’m there, guys. I’m fully submerged and completely overwhelmed by all the “stuff.” The stuff I should be doing, the stuff I’m not doing, the stuff I want to be doing, the stuff I wish I wasn’t doing, the stuff I’m procrastinating, and the stuff I’m prioritizing. There is a lot of stuff.

I want this to be my white space. My clean slate. The white wall, the white piano keys, the empty notebook page. The place that’s all mine where I get to take time and create something I’m proud of. It will be where I show you how I get rid of the extra stuff in my life to make room for the stuff I love. Because we all hit our limits. There is such thing as too much – and I’m there. This is my gesture to slough it off, to be light and to be free.

I have a lot of the things in life that may weigh people down: 2 dogs, a home, a fiance. Let me tell you, those aren’t enough for me to sit down and sort through laundry on all of my off days (okay, maybe some of them). This is the time to make my dreams, ideas, and failures shine through.

I’m taking tiny steps, guys. My house is a mess, I have no photo to upload with this post. And I have no idea what tomorrow will hold. But tonight – today – this is a victory. I set an intention to do this thing, and here I am following through. Hell yes.

What is this space?

This is really difficult.

I’m a really fortunate person. I’ve had opportunities to chase my dreams. I was given a foundation to build skyscrapers and scale mountainsides. I got to learn a lot of lessons the hard way, and I had some incredible mentors along the way to share their hard-learned lessons too. But it’s still scary as hell when I throw myself off a mountain and hope my parachute works.

Even when I do all the set up, the checks, and make sure it’s as safe as is possible – the plunge is terrifying. Some people live for the free fall. I love the free fall, only when there is a 90% chance of safety (come on, 10% is a healthy percentage and it means I’m not stiff and boring)!

The truth though? Even when I stress and obsess over limiting the risk of a new life move – it’s shrouded in anxiety from top to bottom. How exhausting. Why stress over the risk when the anxiety of the jump is going to be just as taxing? At the end of all my major life decisions, I’ve told myself “everything happens for a reason” and I am so proud of the lessons I learned along the way. Why do I build myself up like this?

I’m buying a house.

With this house, and ask I pack up and evaluate my material possessions and their immaterial meanings, I want to make sure I’m bringing only things that enhance my life to my new home. I want less “things” to clutter my home and my mind. I want more experiences that enrich me. I want the space in my new home to do things that are meaningful, and the ease of knowing I can say no.

I want this space to document my journey. The journey to part with material things that don’t add value to my life – to leave behind the things that clutter me literally and figuratively.  Stick with me as I learn to say “no” to experiences, people, and belongings that don’t add value. Stick with me as I learn some more of life’s lessons the hard way!