I have this shower notepad in my bathroom. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a waterproof pad of paper with a little waterproof pencil that can write when wet. I received it from a dear friend as a gift at one of the last retreats I helped out at, who said she uses hers constantly, and when I opened it up I was giddy with glee! A shower notepad! What could be better?! I dutifully hung it from its built-in suction cup on the shower wall and it has quickly become a happy part of my daily routine.
EXCEPT. I haven’t written on this dang shower notepad in months. Even though I love it! Even though it’s arguably a better invention than sliced bread! Even though it’s both useful and adorable, like so very few things are! It has just sat there, bearing old notes but not being used.
You see, I hadn’t been ripping off the pages after I’d filled them. There were fresh, new pages underneath the full pages, but I wanted to keep the previous ones there. Why? Probably because I have this deep-seated urge to fill notebooks and look back on old ideas and have a record of what I’ve been thinking. I like documenting things, which means I do a lot of holding on to all the evidence of my life. Even the pages of my shower notepad, apparently.
Gretchen Rubin talks a lot about the Strategy of Convenience to build better habits. The idea is that the easier it is to do something (even by a tiny fraction of distance), the more likely it is that you’ll do it. And so in this case, even though my notepad was right there and the pencil was right there and I was having a shower anyways, the fact that I’d have to lift up the previous pages and hold them out of the way while I wrote down new ideas has been enough to stop me from using this extremely fine piece of analog technology.
So today, I’m ripping off those previous sheets. I’ll capture any relevant ideas into somewhere more permanent (my bullet journal or Asana) and then go on my merry way recycling the pages. And I plan to also be on the lookout for other places in my life where I’m trying to force myself to write on a full page, metaphorically speaking. Where else do I need to get out of my own way and create some space?
My friend Sonja has this expression: “Everything reflects everything.” She talked about it at length in the interview I did with her, but to me, it says that everything is connected. That how you do one thing is how you do everything. That if one part of your life is suffering, so will other areas be also.
This is simultaneously A LOT OF PRESSURE, and also extremely helpful. When you know everything is connected, you recognize that the fact that you haven’t done laundry in two months is impacting how you feel and show up in the world, and that can feel like a lot to handle. How can we always have our laundry done and every aspect of our lives aligned to our highest standards? We can’t. It’s a game we can’t win.
On the other hand, knowing that everything is connected is very helpful, because it gives you an easy place to begin. When things feel like they’re crumbling and you want to throw it all in and run away, you realize that you could also probably just start with the laundry. You remember that once you do, you’ll likely feel a bit better about life as a whole.
Earlier this week I was tired from all the build-up and inevitable let-down of running my big masterclass at Make Lemonade. I felt restless. I wanted another big project, some other kind of challenge, and yet I was energetically depleted. I wanted to throw it all in and run away – change apartments, or maybe cities?
But instead, I put on a podcast and cleaned my bathroom. I polished it until it shone and washed the floors and windows, and suddenly everything – not just the bathroom, but my life – felt more sparkly and fresh and new. I no longer wanted to throw it in. It helped me appreciate far more what I already have.
Note to self: next time you want to throw your hands up in the air, take out the overflowing recycling. Arrange your shoes neatly. Clear off your desktop. Wash the dishes. Organize the fridge. Clean up.
I’m currently re-reading the Harry Potter series for the first time since I was a kid. When I was young, my dad read the first three to my sisters and I, and then when I was finally old enough, I would stay up all night reading the new ones as soon as I got them. But I’d never revisited them as an adult until this year.
And I’m not just re-reading them, either! I’m reading the books, then listening to the corresponding Binge Mode: Harry Potter podcast episodes, then watching the movies. I’m currently in the middle of book seven, and as I went outside for a walk today to listen to the Binge Mode episode for the span of chapters I’d just read, I couldn’t keep the smile off my face. The two hosts make me laugh so much with all their sayings and phrases, non-stop irreverent jokes about the characters, and double entendres in the text.
But they also maintain such a fierce sense of loyalty and respect for the series throughout. They LOVE these books, unabashedly and whole-heartedly, and listening to them unpack what they love about them and how masterful JKR was in writing them makes you feel like you can appreciate them more, too. It’s like being in the best kind of book club: one with thoughtful friends who carefully point out interesting observations and insights and deepen & enrich your experience of the book itself.
Noticing my joy today made me think about how little I let myself go all in on loving what I love. I hold back, thinking that it’s overkill, or weird, or awkward to love what I love just so much. Now, I see that it’s often a gift to others to live with that kind of enthusiasm. And if not to others, it’s at least a gift to yourself. Not everyone would want to read, listen & watch this series all at once! But I do, and giggling about it all to myself is reminding me to look for even more ways to lean in to my joy.