Like I Always Say…

Giving Up or Pressing On

Originally published as a TinyLetter

lockandchain

It’s 4:38 a.m. on a weekday morning, and I can’t sleep. The baby started fussing a few minutes ago, but I’d already woken up a half hour before with too much on my mind. I’ve been struggling with this question: Do I keep pushing forward with the Reschool Yourself book, or let it go?

It’s like when I had a paper due in school, and every time a spare moment opened up, I felt as if I should be working on it instead of relaxing or having fun. The book weighs me down. It puts a computer screen between me and my family. It makes me tired all the time because I wake up early every morning to chip away at it. Some days I wish I’d never had the idea for the project, which I’ve turned into the ultimate school assignment, one that has dragged on for years.

I know in my core that I want to put the book out into the world, whether I end up with a mainstream publisher or publish it myself. I have a story to share. It matters. But some days I just want to give up, move on, and have a normal life.


what I’m working toward

 

magazines
I’m a bit of an information hoarder, especially when it comes to magazines. I have issues of Real Simple and O, the Oprah Magazine from 2012 that I’ve piled in bookshelves, waiting to be read when I have time. It’s as if by possessing the publication, I possess its knowledge, and I don’t want to let it go. Another issue will arrive in the mail, and I’ll think, “Aah, not another one! I haven’t even read last month’s yet!” And into the stack it goes. I found an issue of Portico Jackson magazine whose cover story is Jackson Now. “Let’s see what Jackson was like five years ago,” I told Darren, flipping through the pages. There could be some good stuff in there that I don’t want to miss!

My family and I are moving to a bigger house in our neighborhood tomorrow, and I’m making that day my deadline to process and recycle all of these old magazines. I’m pulling out a few recipes from Food Network Magazine that I might actually cook, as well as any columns by my ladies Elizabeth Gilbert, Brené Brown, and Martha Beck, then tossing the rest. It feels like a little victory each time I throw another issue into the recycling bin and see the stacks on my shelf dwindle. I feel lighter without so much stuff in the queue.

Collectively, the few dozen pages I’ve pulled could form a whole other magazine (one that’s full of just the stuff I like!). I know that I’m still hoarding information, and who knows when I’ll make time to process it, but at least it’s contained to one file folder in our new house instead of a whole bookshelf. Progress!


what’s fueling me

 

photos

I’ve been at my new job for four months now, and only last week did I decorate my office walls. Hanging up framed pictures always seems so daunting. Before I put holes in the walls, I feel like I need to recruit someone to help me measure the distance between the picture frames, and to hold them up while I stand back and look at the spacing. And then there are so many possible ways to hang them. All in a row or staggered heights? In which order? It’s easier to do nothing, leaving the walls blank and full of possibilities.

But with a couple new staff joining my team last week, I wanted an office that looked more established and not like a transient was just passing through. I’d already brought in a couple of framed prints from my happy times at Visit Mississippi: a colorful painting of a blues musician and a poster from a concert tour that my team worked on. I’d also framed the certificate from my business program (oddly, my undergrad degree is small and not very attractive, with red lettering in Old English font, so it’s boxed away somewhere).

I borrowed a hammer and picture hanging hardware from the storage room and eyeballed three spots on the wall. I penciled in the dots, hammered in the nails, and placed the frames. It took less than a minute to do each one. They’re not precisely spaced, but they’re fine. And looking at them every day gives me a little happiness boost, because the office finally feels like it’s mine.

Like I always say, “Don’t overthink it.” :)

beforesunrise


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Header image by Art Purée

Like I Always Say: What My Wiser Self Knows

Originally published as a TinyLetter

hakunamatata

I have a running joke with my husband, Darren: “Like I always say…” We use it often, when my wiser self knows the best thing to do, but my real-life self just isn’t there yet. For example:

“Like I always say….don’t sweat the small stuff!”
“Like I always say….water under the bridge!”
“Like I always say….Hakuna Matata!”

What makes it funny, of course, is that I usually do sweat the small stuff, have a hard time letting things go, worry a lot, and so on. I’m lucky that Darren sees these personality traits as quirks, not flaws, and the joke helps me see that I’m being silly without coming down hard on myself. Kind of like, “There I go again…” (shakes head)

In this series, originally published as TinyLetters, I explore the space between my present self and my ideal self, finding the balance between accepting myself as I am and evolving toward the person I want to be. I’d love to hear about how you see these themes playing out in your own life.


what I’m working toward

 

I’m loving the Happier in Hollywood podcast, by Liz Craft from Happier with Gretchen Rubin. In episode four, Liz and her writing partner, Sarah Fain, discuss their current “life mantras.” Sarah’s is “Look Up,” inspired by a friend who posts pictures of unusual clouds on social media. I need this reminder myself, multiple times a day. I tend to put my head down and work, forgetting to look up and see what’s around me: nature, the news, or my own husband and kids wanting my attention.

The other life mantra that I have written on a mini yellow Post-It on my desk at work is “Be Mindful.” I’m practicing pulling my mind back into my body, as it will drift off into thoughts and worries without my even realizing it. When I’m mindful, I listen with full attention, know where I’m putting things so I don’t need to search for them later, and don’t run into furniture (OK, I still do, but not quite as much).


what’s fueling me


On Campus, Failure is on the Syllabus
(New York Times)
A number of colleges, including Harvard and Stanford, now have initiatives to normalize failure and build grit among their students. Seeing how people coped with setbacks would have been good for me at that age (and would be just as helpful now, as well).

Wondering What Happened to Your Class Valedictorian? Not Much, Research Shows (TIME)
I recognized myself way too much in this research. Why do we keep training kids for success in the classroom when there’s such a disconnect with success in life? (h/t Gillian Burgess)

Mom Packs Encouraging Note in Own Lunch (The Onion)
I think about doing this on the daily.


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