Celebrate the Small Wins

Today is the last day of National Blog Post Writing Month, and it also happens to be the longest work day I’ve had in a very long time, at 11 hours and counting. I’m tired, and I still want to work on my newsletter and Inspiration links before I get to bed, so it seems like as good a time as any to celebrate the small wins.

Celebrate the Small Wins >> Life In Limbo

I wrote a blog post for every day in November after I committed to the challenge (from the 3rd onwards)!

Despite the long work day, I still got to Inbox Zero.

I got to talk to one of my favourite people on my commute home.

I don’t normally have to commute home.

I work with (mostly) extremely understanding and supportive people.

Tomorrow is Friday.

My cat didn’t puke anywhere in my apartment while I was out.

I drove a car around Toronto today and didn’t hit anything and managed to park on busy streets and not freak out too badly.

There was a bottle of wine waiting for me when I got home. (Monkey covering eyes emoji.)

My stepmom sent me a cute picture of their dog today.

I fixed one small piece of what’s wrong with the website for one of my clients.

It’s the beginning of a fresh new month tomorrow.

Thanks for hanging out for NaBloPoMo this year! This will be the end of my daily blogging, at least for the next little while, but I hope to write more frequently in general in the future. I appreciate all your comments and support! You are all huge wins for me.

My Work Manifesto

When people find out I’m self-employed, they usually respond one of three ways:

  • “Don’t you get bored?”
  • “Don’t you get lonely?”
  • “I could never do that.”

These responses don’t really bother me, mostly because I’m usually too busy not being bored, not being lonely, and doing things I love, to notice. I know that my lifestyle is probably not right for everyone, but it’s just right for me.

My Work Manifesto >> Life In Limbo

The walls of my home office. Lettering by Laura Fraser!

While yes, of course, I have boring days, and lonely ones (doesn’t everyone?), for me the freedom of structuring my days and the giddy joy of getting to work on projects I find interesting makes it 100% worth it for me. Most of the time, I remember this and feel incredibly grateful for the quirky career I’m building for myself.

Sometimes though, I forget this and feel sluggish, or stir-crazy, or even – yes! – bored. The afternoons are usually the worst for this, especially if I haven’t been careful with shielding myself from notifications and getting focused work done.

Today I feel amazing (a book I’ve been helping to launch is officially published tomorrow!) so I thought I’d take advantage of my great mood and write my work manifesto, to read whenever I forget, that will help me embrace my work-life:

Don’t treat a gift like a burden

It’s a fun job and I enjoy it

If not this, then an exact replica

Go play hooky

Resist the expectation of an immediate response

The work always gets done

If overwhelmed, dim the noise

Don’t work with your email (or Slack or phone) open

Hold firm on your boundaries

Not for every day, but for some days

Throw your problems in a pile

I am not a robot

What helps you reframe your work? What mantras help you stay focused and grateful?

Recalibrating My Days

A couple weeks back, I wrote an Instagram post about remembering to go outside for a walk in the early evening, before the sun went down:

“Today I was working at my desk trying to rush and get stuff done before the weekend, but luckily took a pause and said to myself, if you don’t go outside now, it’ll be dark out and too late to go for a walk. So I went. And it was beautiful, and quiet, and there weren’t many people around, and the sky was gorgeous. And suddenly what I had been rushing to do didn’t seem so urgent.

Recalibrating My Days >> Life In Limbo

This idea has been with me for a long time – all the way back to when I had a “Don’t miss the moment” poster taped to my wall, and probably before that. I never want to look up and realize that I’ve missed all the sunshine, or get home from a party and have the yucky feeling like I wasn’t truly present for any of it, or that it’s only fun now that I’m reflecting on it after the fact.

This philosophy requires a lot of flexibility, creativity, and mindfulness, things that I am constantly working on developing for myself. I’m a person who likes routines, and can easily start to measure myself on how well I’m sticking to my (arbitrarily-established) routine on a daily basis. That night, rushing to get stuff done felt like the price I had to pay in order to enjoy my evening and relax, until I remembered that I am self-employed, I set my own schedule, and I can relax right now.

With this in mind, I’m making an effort to recalibrate my days to celebrate the change in seasons. Instead of getting all my work done before I go for my daily walk, I’m sticking my nature time right into the middle of my work day. This week, I’ve been going for a long leisurely walk right smack dab after lunch, soaking up the midday sunshine when it’s at its peak, instead of hoping to catch a few weak rays of it in the late afternoon.

Yesterday I went to the park near my house and laid down on a picnic table in the sun, cloud-watching and appreciating the light through the leaves on the giant trees. It felt “wrong” somehow to be doing this before I’d “earned it” (ugh @ myself sometimes, you know!?!), but it also felt so good. When I got back to my desk, I was able to be way more productive because I didn’t feel rushed, and I didn’t have to mourn the sun setting at 5:30PM before I’d had a chance to enjoy it properly. I’d enjoyed it already.

I know not everyone has the freedom to recalibrate their days to the extent that I do, but maybe you can walk on your lunch break. Maybe you can wake up earlier and sit quietly beside the window in the morning light. Maybe you can go outside for a five minute Vitamin D break.

As I try to embrace the change in seasons (so far, so good!), this tiny recalibration is making a big difference for me. How do you restructure your life as seasons change?

Thoughts for Winter

“November silently sneaks up on us, catching our senses by surprise. Outside, silvery grey shafts reveal a familiar landscape stripped of pretence. Behind closed doors, glowing amber fires shed light upon the real. Like a woman who has found her authenticity, November’s beauty radiates from within.” 

-Sarah Ban Breathnach

Thoughts for Winter >> Life In Limbo

November did sneak up on me, especially this year. It was a tremendous summer, one of my best yet, and the warm weather lingered well into Fall. It was only when I was on my daily walk on Saturday trying to catch a ray or two of sunshine when I realized that it was so cold my fingers were too stiff to type and my ears were numb. It seems like only yesterday that I was on a patio somewhere with my friends!

I am a person who really struggles with winter. I dislike the cold, play no winter sports, and hate how it gets dark outside so early. Reading the passage above, from the book Simple Abundance, was comforting in that it reminded me of the flip side of these dark months: we can use them to work on cultivating our inner, private lives. We can relish the warm light of our homes behind closed doors. We can respect the energy shift of this new season instead of fighting it.

This year, although apparently I have some kind of identity attachment to hating winter that I feel like clinging to, I am choosing differently. I choose to embrace these winter months.

Some practical resolutions for myself this season:

I will not complain about the cold. I will not complain about the darkness. I will not complain about the cold!

I will keep my lighter handy and try to light candles every day.

I will dress more warmly. I will invest in winter layers in order to dress more warmly.

I will go outside for a walk every day.

I will take lots of hot bubble baths.

I will take my daily vitamin D!

I will read books about loving winter.

I will up my hygge game at home as much as possible. I even started a Pinterest board to inspire me.

I will cuddle with my cat more often.

I will let myself take naps.

I will make cozy winter recipes and cozy winter drinks.

I will plan winter adventures despite the cold. I will not complain about the cold!

Do you have tips for embracing winter? Teach me your ways!! If you need me I’ll be over here reading this post and trying to become a Winter Person. And this post. And this one.


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