Jump in without looking. Jump in without thinking. Don’t pause. Jump. Leap. Reach. Go. Press accept. Book it. Send it. Dive in. Follow your gut. Follow your heart.
Pause. And weigh the pros and cons. Consider the options. Sleep on it for the night. Or another night. Or another. Reconsider. Make lists. Talk it out. Talk it through. Really really think about it. Ponder. Keep pondering. Keep thinking. Keep mulling. Mull. Mull. Mull. Maybe add a little spice to the mull, nope too risky. Keep thinking. Pause. Sit.
Sometimes there are decisions that need to be made quickly and without too much deep thought. Go with the gut. Trust your heart. Jump. To borrow from Nike, Just Do It. If I were my own best friend I would try to get out of my way and do more leaping and jumping and diving. I have gotten pretty good at pause and ponder. You cannot get places with pause and ponder. You can grow moss with pause and ponder. You get places by jumping in. You can get unstuck. You get un-mossy. You can push the envelope, move the needle, shift the line, or whatever analogy your prefer. But the point is you don’t get anywhere on pause. You don’t get anywhere pondering. You don’t get anywhere new by sitting and thinking.
Jump. In. Already. Jump.
Confession time. I am addicted to being busy. I have lists of things to do. I have lists of lists. There are lists that refer to other lists so if I finish the first list I can start the secondary, tertiary, and quartenary lists. I try to do as many “things” as I can every. single. day. And at the end of most days I wonder what I did all day. Busy-ness. That is all it is. And at the end of the day I have rarely prioritized the most important things. But man, oh man, have I filled the time. Busy.
And yes, there are some things that really do need to happen, like cooking for the family and some basic house cleaning and some paperwork for the kids’ schools or taxes or paying bills. But let’s be honest (real confession time now), the busy stuff can fill a day or a week or months and at the end of the year I have not done the things I set out to do (the things I really want to do) because “I was too busy.” But really, what I did, was I filled the time with busy tasks to avoid the hard work.
Busy-ness is a great avoidance technique.
I do not have to take a risk and write that book I want to write if I’m busy weeding outside. I might be too busy cleaning bathrooms to set up the new blog I have been dreaming about. Instead of sketching out a series of pictures too print I am busy sorting the kids’ clothes. It’s definitely not risky to get busy cleaning the garage, but it is scary to talk with printers and figure out how to publish a book.
So there it is, busy-ness, lists and lists of to-dos, never-ending tasks around the house or for life in general – they are all excellent for avoiding the work I keep talking about and dreaming about, but not doing. Because, busy-ness is not risky or scary. No one is going to laugh at me for washing windows. No one is going to write a bad review of how I do laundry. No one is going to buy my organized notebook for recipes. But all of that stuff sure keeps me busy. And at the end of the day, I am no further along.
So, if I were my own best friend I would tell myself to start prioritizing the things I really really want to do. Take the scary steps forward and take a few huge steps back from the lists and the busy-ness. Make room for the important things. Push busy-ness on the back burner and do the things you really want to do.
If you have been “too busy” like me I encourage you to take a step back from busy and make the time for the things you want in life.
Last weekend I totally screwed up. For my health I have to avoid certain foods. If I eat those foods (on purpose or on accident, it does not matter, the result is the same) I feel really really rotten. If I eat more of those foods I feel more rotten. So I read food labels and do my best to avoid those foods. And usually I do pretty well.
But then there was last weekend. I was already feeling rotten when I bought something to eat at the airport (because I had accidentally eaten the food I was not supposed to eat the day before at an event). At the airport I thought I read the label and I thought it specifically said the food did not have what I was avoiding. Great! I can eat this, I thought. So I bought the food and I sat on an airplane for a couple hours eating that food. And I ate that food all the way home. And I continued to feel worse and worse. And I could not figure out why I was feeling more and more rotten. And I kept eating that food.
When I got home and was clearing out my bag I happened to look at the package for the food I had been eating all day and, well, there was my answer for why I was feeling rotten. I read the label wrong. In fact, I read the label so wrong that it even said the food contained the exact thing (in bold) I was supposed to avoid. So, I screwed up. And I paid for it for 3+ days. And at first I was really angry with myself and hard on myself about not reading the label and making that mistake. I gave myself a lot of not-so-nice lectures about reading carefully and paying attention and being smarter. And not only did I feel physically rotten but I started feeling mentally rotten too.
Then I remembered if I were my own best friend I would tell myself to be a little bit kinder to myself. I would remind myself we all make mistakes, honest-to-goodness mistakes. And we hopefully learn from those mistakes (like reading more carefully). And we give ourselves a hug, and make a cup of tea, and drink some broth and know that in about 3 days we will feel better again. And that is life.
Have you made a mistake recently? Were you kind and forgiving with yourself? Were you harsh and punishing? Did you learn anything?
It was Halloween in these parts last week. Everyone left to go trick-or-treating and I stayed home to hand out goodies. I was alone. The lights were mostly off in the house. It was dark outside. I was playing music in the background – Spooky Symphonies. Lots of string instruments and drums and rumbles and suspense.
Someone would knock on the door. I would open the door, hand out treats, then return to my mostly dark house with spooky music. Over the course of about 30 minutes I felt myself getting more and more anxious, more and more on edge. What was going on? I normally like Halloween and seeing all the costumes. It took me another 10 minutes to figure out it was the music making me anxious.
I switched to country pop music, turned on a few lights, and within another 10 minutes I was back to mellow and happy. Moral of the story? If I were my own best friend I would tell myself not to stay home alone, turn off the lights, and listen to scary music unless I want to scare the be-jeebies out of myself. I would also tell myself to change the soundtrack from time to time. If the background noise is not working for me, then change it up. This can apply to so many things in life, in this case it was literally the background music, but it can apply to so much more. How would your life be different if something in your background changed?
It is hard to be mindful and focus on one thing when there are so many things pushing in all at once. Sometimes I like to imagine I am in a box and I can push the walls out to give myself space to be able to focus more completely on one thing at a time. I push the walls by meditating or exercising or literally pushing back and saying ‘no’ to things. I push the walls by taking a moment to breathe or to be quiet or to look outside at the sky. I push the walls by holding my arms out and refusing to let anything distract me from what I want to be present with in that moment (spouse, kids, family, friends, sunset, sunrise, delicious scone, and so on).
If I were my own best friend I would tell myself to make space – to be able to be present and focused – push out the walls. Do you ever do this? What kind of things do you do to give yourself mental space?
I have a to-do list that never seems to end. I try to prioritize it but there are always things left at the end of the day. Some of those things have been on my list for months now. And when I look at them (and think about them not getting done) I try to give myself a little grace. I try to say “it’s alright” or “you’ll get to it when you can” or “look at everything else you did today or this week.” But here’s the thing – I am starting to wonder if by continuing to give myself grace I am actually building a making-excuses-island-outpost in the sea of grace. I am starting to think I am actually sitting back in a hammock, under a palm tree, sipping a mai-tai listening to the waves of “it’s ok” crash on the sand?
If I were my own best friend I would suggest I take a hard look at whether or not I am being gentle or kind with myself or if I have become marooned in excuses. I would also tell myself to consider whether or not things that have been on my to-do list since 2017 should really still be on there? What do you think? Grace or excuses? Do you have a list with to-do items from 2 years ago?
Some days (not very often) I have the opportunity to cook and bake and try new recipes (lots of new recipes). I use every single measuring spoon, measuring cup, mixing bowl, spatula, pot and pan in my kitchen. I have a giant mountain of mess at the end of it all and a bunch of (hopefully) delicious food to eat. And I am so very very happy.
Some days I measure happiness by how many measuring spoons I use. If I were my own best friend I would tell myself to have those days more often. They bring me a lot of joy and feed my soul for days to come. Do you have something like that which you love to do? Do you make the time to do it often enough?