Thinking Smaller

The other day my dear friend Laura and I discussed whether we wanted to tackle the big adventure that is the 100 Day Project. I’d been thinking about doing 100 days of blogging, and she’d thought about doing 100 days of her (amazing!) plant illustrations. It seems like such a fun and meaningful creative challenge, and one that I’ve thought about tackling for a couple years now. We both loved the idea of seeing one another’s projects unfold, but to both of us, the project seemed daunting, especially in a busy season of life.

Thinking Smaller >> Life In Limbo

The great thing about having creative, thoughtful friends to bounce ideas off of is that they naturally encourage you to explain the real reason you want to do something. They force you to get clearer on your vision as you struggle to explain why the amazing idea inside your head is such a good idea after all. Sometimes that clarity leads to an assuredness in your initial choice, and sometimes it makes you realize that you need to pivot slightly or set different goals.

I’m a Questioner, which means I’m always trying to get to the root of why I’m doing something: what’s the underlying motive? What’s my real goal? When I’m working with clients, I want them to tell me their reason for doing something that’s one step beyond the stock answer of, “because it’s a best practice,” “because it’s what you do,” or “because someone told me that’s how they built their business.” When you get down to the root of it and understand your guiding intentions, your strategy can be more effectively tailored to match.

When Laura asked why I wanted to do the 100 Day Project, my reasons were pretty simple: I loved my experience doing Blog Post Writing Month last November. I miss the habit of writing and observing my life. I so admire daily bloggers like Seth Godin and (up until a couple years ago) Elise Cripe. I need to process the things I’m learning, and I want a place to do that.

Stripped down like this, it became pretty clear to me that while the 100 Day Project would be a great ‘excuse’ to make more room in my life for all of the above, it was by no means the only way to do so, let alone the best way. In fact, in this season of my life, I can say for sure that it would not be the best way to meet those goals.

As truly great as my daily blogging experiment was, it was tiring, and difficult to make time for every day. I ended up feeling so relieved after the last day of the challenge that I have not written another non-Inspiration post since then! It’s easy to imagine how the same would be true after 100 days of daily blogging. But my goal is not to blog for 100 days and then never again until my next sprint. My goal is to cultivate a regular habit of writing that sustains me over time.

I needed to think smaller, slower, steadier, and more sustainable. I needed to ask myself: Can you maintain it? To remind myself: you don’t need to have a huge goal, you can have a small goal that meets all the same needs. 

I realized that all I really needed was to make myself a container to play in, an expectation to meet, and an excuse to make time for my creativity.

Which is a very long way of saying that I have decided to forgo the 100 Day Project this year in lieu of a smaller, mightier goal: to start writing one post a week. On Tuesdays for now, hopefully forever. It’s not a daily writing practice (Still the goal! Still wish I was Seth Godin!), but it’s a step in the right direction. See you next week!

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.

What I’ve Learned From NaBloPoMo

My month of daily blogging is coming to an end! Only one day to go. It’s been a wonderful month for so many reasons, but having an ‘excuse’ to reflect daily has been such a blessing. As we move into the busy holiday season, I don’t feel ready to commit to continuing this pace of writing, but I’m so happy to have done it for the month. It’s been a great experience, not as hard as I expected, and I’m so excited to write more, going forward. This challenge also taught me a lot about myself and where I’m at, and I’m coming away with a lot more insight into myself and my life. Here’s what I’ve learned over the past month of daily writing!

NaBloPoMo >> Life In Limbo

Write to Think

This was the title of my first blog post in the series, and it carried me through the month. Whenever I’d feel blocked, I’d remember this mantra and it always delivered. The truth is that sometimes I don’t know what I’m going to say until I start saying it! The other big piece of this is that girl, I need to write. Having a place to flesh out my ideas and ponder big themes and wonder about my life was so helpful that it made me wonder why I don’t do it more often.

Note to self: Use the page as an extension of your brain.

Keep It Quiet

This is not a new idea to me (it’s been on my mind for much of this year), but my reflections this month reminded me just how important it is to stay in control of my technologies instead of letting them be in control of me. Dimming the noise, going off the grid, turning off notifications: these are some of the best tools I have to be more present, mindful and reflective.

Note to self: Put your phone in a different room. Turn on Do Not Disturb. Do not be disturbed.

Trust Yourself

Something that came through loud and clear for me this month was just how important it is that I trust my still, strong, inner voice over the loud, chaotic external voices of others and of society. I want to measure what matters to me, I want to do what’s right for me, I want to trust and value my own intuition. It is bafflingly easy to become attached to dreams that aren’t yours and goals that don’t match your life. It’s so easy to constantly monitor how you stack up against others in areas that aren’t even personally important to you. I have to remember to return, again and again and again, to what is authentically meaningful to me.

Note to self: Go for a long walk by yourself. By the end, you’ll have remembered what’s important to you. If you haven’t yet, keep walking.

The Simple Things are Everything

And on that note, this month of writing was a reaffirmation of an idea I already knew to be true: that to me, the small, everyday things are what matter to me, and what I want to put the bulk of my time and energy towards. Things like presence, conversation, kindness, love, community, joy, humility, groundedness. If I’m pointing my compass towards those life forces, I’m good. Everything’s good.

Note to self: Cook a meal, phone a loved one, read a book.

I’ll definitely be participating in NaBloPoMo next November! Would you ever try it?

Thoughts On Enlightenment

One of my favourite concepts that I learned at yoga school is that yoga (and life) is about finding a balance between your internal and external worlds, not just shutting down the external world. Our yoga teachers taught us that it’s very easy to be enlightened when you’re meditating alone in a cave in the mountains somewhere, but it is not so easy to be enlightened as you move through a chaotic, busy marketplace full of people. Yet those who can stay mindful, present and peaceful in the marketplaces of life are those that are truly enlightened.

On Enlightenment >> Life In Limbo

David Foster Wallace says (in my favourite piece of writing of all time),

“If you’ve really learned how to think, how to pay attention, then it will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, loud, slow, consumer hell-type situation as not only meaningful but sacred, on fire with the same force that lit the stars – compassion, love, the unity of all things.”

I get choked up just reading those sentences, because the blindingly beautiful truth of them reminds me of what it means to be human. On my very best days, I can get glimpses of this: I have smiled like an idiot on a seriously hellish streetcar ride, truly feeling so connected and grateful for the experience and the souls I’m sharing it with. Don’t get me wrong though, on many days, I’m just anxious to get to my stop and mentally rolling my eyes at “how repulsive most of them are and how stupid and cow-like they seem”. But I have experienced the former, and the truth and beauty of those experiences is life, is love, is what it means to be human.

On a funnier (but no less true) note, Ram Dass says, “If you think you’re enlightened, go spend a week with your family.” And isn’t it always the case? Go home for even a day, and stories and thoughts and annoyances from your childhood appear and you revert back to your high-school aged self. Buttons are pushed, triggers are triggered, etc, etc, etc.

But. Life doesn’t happen in the cave, it happens in the market. Love doesn’t happen in the cave, it happens in the market. Same goes for connection, harmony, and collective joy, not to mention many forms of personal and spiritual growth that can only happen in relationship with others.

I sometimes think that if I could just get my life set up to exclude anything I consider negative or bad, then I’d be happy and life would be perfect. Essentially, I imagine that one day I’ll build myself the perfect cave full of perfect things and live happily ever after. But of course, life happens in the real world, with real people who are maddening and beautiful. The market is where a million things are happening that are outside of your control, things you don’t like and would never have chosen if you’d been given the choice. But the market is also where the magic happens.

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