Any Anne Lamont fans out there?

Who else is an Anne Lamont fan?

If you are perhaps scrolling through this blog avoiding something you need to do... or stuck knowing what the next steps are... or, if you're like me and sometimes you care too much about the scope of a big project and get paralysed because you care too much and don't want to screw it up...

If that's you, then perhaps you need to read this too:

Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report written on birds that he’d had three months to write, which was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books about birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.”
-Anne Lamont, Bird By Bird

Photo by  Manideep Karne

On doing the work in spite of feelings

 
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I had a conversations yesterday with someone I don’t know well. I heard a litany of reasons why her business wasn’t where she wanted it to be. I just listened.

At the end she said “I guess it boils down to this: I know what to do, but I don’t always want to do it.” All I could say was “Then that’s the root of your problem. What would you like to do about it?” Of course the conversation went from there but I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

The fact is this. There is no easy button or shortcut. Whether you like it or not, the only way forward is to do the work! There won’t be any parents nagging you to get out of bed or show up. That’s your job – to push yourself to do what you don’t feel like doing.

The reality is you will be tired today, and you will be tired a year from now as well.

You may not “feel like it” today, and you won’t necessarily “feel like it” a year from now either.

If you wait to feel like it, you’re probably gonna be waiting a long time.

No matter how people motivate, believe, or support you, you still need to get up and do something. As soon as you face this fact your life will turn around. Benjamin Hardy said it well in his book, Willpower Doesn’t Work: Discover the Hidden Keys to Success

“The belief that you cannot change leads to a victim mentality. If you are determined by nature to be what you are, then there is nothing you can do about your lot in life. Conversely, the belief that you can change leads you to take responsibility for your life. You may have been born with certain constraints, but you can change those constraints, allowing yourself to improve and grow.” 

It’s true. When you are ready to take responsibility for your life is when things begin to change. Welcome to being an adult.

Feelings Are Temporary

 

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I had a conversations yesterday with someone I don’t know well. I heard a litany of reasons why her business wasn’t where she wanted it to be. I just listened.

At the end she said “I guess it boils down to this: I know what to do, but I don’t always want to do it.” All I could say was “Then that’s the root of your problem. What would you like to do about it?” Of course, the conversation went from there, but I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

The fact is this: the only way forward is to do the work! There is no easy button or shortcut.

The reality is that you will be tired today, and you will be tired a year from now as well.

You may not “feel like it” today, and you won’t necessarily “feel like it” a year from now either.

In the end, you’ll need to make your peace with and remind yourself every single day that just because you don’t ‘feel’ like it, doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Mel Robbins (my new girl-crush) said it this way:

 
The way that our minds are wired and the fact about human beings is that we are not designed to do things that are uncomfortable or scary or difficult. Our brains are designed to protect us from those things, because our brains are trying to keep us alive. Your brain is wired to stop you at all cost from doing anything that might hurt you.

In order to change, in order to build a business, in order to be the best parent, in order to be the best spouse–to do all those things that you know you want to do with your life–you are going to have to do things that are difficult, uncertain, or scary
— Mel Robbins
 

Which sets up this problem for all of us: YOU ARE NEVER GOING TO FEEL LIKE IT.

I have found that making my peace with this reality is the first step. The second, is to have some structure in place, like time blocking, and taking account the need to schedule downtime, or play time as well. If this is a struggle for you, I plan on recording some videos in the future to share tips I’ve learned along the way. But for now, focus on and acknowledge that feelings are just that… feelings. They don’t have to dictate your life.

Go do the work. I’ll be cheering you on.

Sometimes we need to be reminded

 
photo by Charlene Fike

photo by Charlene Fike

It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were… But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going, because they were holding on to something.
— Samwise Gamgee, The Lord of the Rings
 

I needed to read this today:

I've been holding on to a dream. I've kept going. I've been faithfully planning and building business muscles for nearly two decades. I've become really good at managing myself in respect to time so that I could build something that is important to me. And the time is coming when I get to share it with others. Pinch me!

We are co-branding a product launch for Kilometer 66 with artisans in Thailand. As the photos come in and I see it coming together I stand in awe. It is worth it to push through the darkness.

Thank you Samwise for reminding me that a new day does come.

I'm not gonna lie. It's not been easy. But vision propels.

On Letting Things Fall Sometimes

A Poem for Someone Who is Juggling Her Life

This is a poem for someone
who is juggling her life.
Be still sometimes.
Be still sometimes.

It needs repeating
over and over
to catch her attention
over and over,
as someone who is juggling her life
finds it difficult to hear.

Be still sometimes.
Be still sometimes.
Let it all fall sometimes.
— Rose Cook From Notes From a Bright Field
 
 

I was talking to a friend the other day struggling to juggle it all. She shared about the guilt she felt for disappointing so many people — including herself. Perhaps you have felt the same way.

Afterwards I shared this poem with her. Perhaps it will encourage you too to “let it all fall sometimes.” It’s ok. The world won’t fall apart if you stop for a second and take a walk or nice bubble bath.


On Perfect Friendships

Ever read something and spit out what you are drinking with a good belly laugh? 

I just spit out my tea when I read this:

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We instantly connected and knew that if left unsupervised by responsible adults we could get into all kinds of trouble if we became friends.

So we became friends.

This made me laugh because it captured in words something so magical when it happens.  Life is richer... struggles more bearable... because they grant you total freedom to be yourself.  

I hope you have such friends! 

What are you tolerating Part Two

Now that you've had time to take stock of what you are tolerating I find it helpful to to think through what I want to do about it.  Really there are only four things you can do.

  1. Do/Fix It -- Don't keep waiting for a 'perfect' time just take care of ‘it’ now.  
  2. Delegate It -- Perhaps ‘it’ is not the best use of your time.  Can someone else take this off your plate?  For me this is the hardest.  Somehow I stubbornly think I can do it all when some of the things I'm tolerating can be removed if I'd simply delegate and give myself grace in the process.
  3. Dump It -- Sometimes it's best to accept ‘it’, let it go, and move on.  
  4. Dedicate Time to Eliminating It -- If 'it' can be eliminated do you want create a new ritual or habit to change it?  That decision makes all the difference.  

Look at the list of what you are tolerating and highlight the things that you can do/fix or delegate.  Then make a list of what you are choosing to let go of and dump.  Celebrate it.  Breathe deeply and move on.  Then comes the hard part.  Make a list of the top three things you’d like to commit to tackling during the next 100 days.  You can always tackle more later, but lets get some wins under your belt.  

This can change your life if you let it,  Onward!

 

 

What are you tolerating?

What exists in your life right now that isn’t quite the way you’d like it to be?   You know... those little things you put up with that you’ve been meaning to fix, but haven’t? Those things that you keep swearing you will to get to. . .   

Maybe it’s the clutter piled up in your office, bedroom or your car.  Maybe it's something in your home you've been meaning to fix.  Or maybe it is something bigger – like a home that doesn’t meet your needs for the season you are entering or a car payment that's too high for your budget.   

The things in our lives that are out of alignment are more than just annoyances.  They actually drain energy and distract us from crafting our best life.  

Why don't you grab a cup of tea and start to write down things you are tolerating.  Take a sheet of paper or open a word doc and begin to make a brain dump.  I've listed various categories to think about to help you get started.   Here we go!

  • HealthFinances
  • Personal Relationships/Family
  • Personal Environment (home, office, your "space" etc.)
  • Work/Business
  • Spirituality
  • Personal Development (self-care. personal growth, habits etc.)
  • Equipment/Technology

In a follow-up blog I'll discuss next steps to think about after you've made your list.  I'd love to hear how this exercise went for you!  

If you need help priming the pump here are some examples: 

  1. Messy closets
  2. Friendships that are not reciprocal
  3. Poor communication with your spouse/partner
  4. Appliances that need to be fixed
  5. Walls need to be painted
  6. Car needs a tune up
  7.  Don’t have a church home
  8. Need to improve my skill level on the computer
  9. Don’t like your job
  10. Not exercising
  11. Inadequate salary
  12. Unorganized reciepts 

     

     
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    Don't fall into this trap!

    Every single day on which you don’t start, you are ingraining the habit of passivity more deeply into your mind and body. — unknown

    I read the above quote a couple of times today and thought I'd share it with you. If you let passivity rule, you are doing nothing. Nothing to further your goals. Nothing to take control over your life. Nothing to turn your dreams into reality.

    In short, you are letting things happen to you.  Instead of going out there and doing things.

    I'm reminded of a Leonardo Da Vinci quote I like: “It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things”

    When you don’t start today, you probably won’t start tomorrow, either. Your future self is probably not going to be all that different from your current self — unless you start making the necessary changes today.

    “What is the single step that I can take today, which will bring me a little bit closer to my goals? Seriously, I want to know!

    A quote I'm thinking about...

     
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    Fail early and get it all over with. If you learn to deal with failure… you can have a worthwhile career. You learn to breathe again when you embrace failure as a part of life, not as the determining moment of life.

    — Rev. William L. Swig

    Wisdom right?

    Simple and profound

    I just finished reading this:

    In life and business, the person with fewest blind spots wins.
    — Thomas Oppong

    Simple and profound. Something I want to ponder... what blind spots do I currently have that are getting in the way of my goals?

    That's what I'm thinking about tonight.

    Controlled by principles

     
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    I’ve been thinking about this quote a lot lately.

    For anyone who has ever attempted to wallpaper or tile a room thinking you didn't need a plum-line because you are sure you have a good eye... you know exactly what happens. And so it is in life.  Without principles it is easy to convince yourself things that are “grey” are really “white.”

    Lately I’ve witnessed some friends making choices that fall in what I call the “grey” camp. It has saddened me.  Their choices actually hurt people.  

    For me the antidote is to surround myself with people who know me, who believe in me, and call me to craft my best life.  And... call me on my stuff when I am deceiving myself.  Do you have a tribe around you to help you live.    

     

    Do words matter to you?

    Do words matter to you? They do to me. I'm always picking up a new word. Here's one for today: 

    met·a·cog·ni·tion ( ˌmedəˌkäɡˈniSH(ə)n )  

    it means thinking about thinking. Metacognition; it's what I do... I'm owning it!

    Any new words you're picking up and want to pass along?

    You choose what defines you

    Nobody sees your past except you.
    To you, mistakes feel ever present. 
    BUT, nobody knows them. 
    These things are not branded on your skin. 
    They are only with you if you choose to carry them. 
    Hardships aren’t meant to be secrets — they have made you who you are. . .
    . . . they simply don’t define you!

    I read this a while back and wrote it down in my journal. I saw it today and realized how good it was and wanted to share it with you in case this was a message you needed to hear today. Unfortunately, I am not sure of the source.

    Make today amazing!

    Tribe of Mentors

    Last November a new book Tribe Of Mentors by Tim Ferriss came out.  These days I usually read books on my kindle app but I decided to buy the hardcover.  I'm really glad I did.  I know it is a book that I will return to time and again and it deserves a space on my shelf. 

    At first it was a bit hard to switch to reading ebooks.  I missed handling a book and writing in its margins.  But I got used to it and now I rarely buy a physical book.  Partly because we live in such a small condo and partly because I've learned to enjoy the convenience of having my growing library at my fingertips no matter where I am in the world.  

    I'm now more than halfway through and it has not disappointed.  The book is a collection of wisdom from a wide variety of influencers and leaders.  I'm discovering new books to read, podcasts to follow and quotes to add to my quote notebook.  I usually wait to recommend a book when I finish it, but this one I can whole heartedly endorse.    

    I

    Mise-en-place

    Awhile back I read Anthony Bourdain’s book Kitchen Confidential. One part of his memoir I think about often.  He writes: "Mise en place is the religion of all good line cooks."

    "As a cook, your station, and its condition, its state of readiness, is an extension of your nervous system," he continues.  "The universe is in order when your station is set up the way you like it: you know where to find everything with your eyes closed, everything you need during the course of the shift is at the ready at arm's reach, your defenses are deployed."

    He goes on to describe what chefs call the ‘meez’ as "carefully arranged supplies of sea salt, rough-cracked paper, softened butter, cooking oil, wine, back-ups, and so on."  Without a well-tended meez, Bourdain warns, you'll soon find yourself spinning in place and calling for backup.

    Perhaps I’ve been thinking of this because I’ve been traveling for several weeks now and it’s easy to feel out of sorts.  Thankfully a friend introduced me to packing cubes.  They make a world of difference as I unpack from one hotel room to another.  Honestly, I don’t want to remember the mess that was my suitcase prior to using them!  Re-packing isn’t a stressful process.  I simply zip up the cubes and put them back in their place in my suitcase.  Voila!  And, I find joy in nestling them into a drawer or two.  

    Bourdain learned the hard way that planning is the essential ingredient to any dish.  He shared how he envisions the perfect execution of the dish before he even begins.  We can learn from that.  We may not be line cooks but each day we too can take the time to prepare. 

    Each day we have a choice. Do we rush in; check email, respond to requests, troll Facebook. Or, do we breathe deep, imagine our day and think about not only WHAT we need to do, but WHO we need to BE today? Do we create an intellectual mise-en-place as it were?

    I want to develop the habit of thinking about how to calibrate each day around the important vs the urgent.  It’s a challenge worth working toward!  Plus, it bakes in reflection into my daily rhythm – which is always a good thing.  I want to heed Bourdain's advice:  “Do not f--- with a line cook’s ‘meez’!”