Today I turn 42, and my birthday present to myself is starting this blog.
It’s not ”designed,” and it really “should” be considering I’m a web designer. But I’m so over “shoulds” and totally into “what is” these days, so instead I’m starting with a theme framework called Canvas, which is appropriately blank and white. A metaphor for the starting point for the year I intend to have, beginning today.
While in years past I’ve given myself far more extravagant gifts — a week of spa appointments, a shopping spree and even a trip to London — this year I am giving myself the gift of starting. Not just this blog, but living.
I made the decision to start blogging again months ago. I made a mindmap and a blogging strategy, I consulted with colleagues about the strategy, and I brainstormed concepts for the design. I had a big folder filled with great ideas and plans and sketches but what I didn’t have was a blog.
It dawned on me on the eve of my 43rd year that this was a metaphor for my life. Big dreams, goals and plans; skills, talents and a helpful community of people around me — all shoved in a folder while I spent my energy yearning for things I didn’t have and imagining who I wanted to be rather than becoming it.
Dreams are vital to personal growth, we need goals both big and small or we’ll just tread water. But visualizing something intensely, wanting it, asking the universe for it — that doesn’t make it magically materialize, turns out.
The things we are and have right now are a product of what we thought and dreamed about in the past, but they’re also a result of the choices we made and the actions we took. Without the right (or any) action, I have come to realize that dreams can work against you.
Too much thinking, too much feeling the need to be more or somehow different than I was, for me, lead to some pretty dark periods of depression, anxiety, self-loathing and eventually, isolation. To soothe myself I would immerse myself even further in distractions — the internet, reality television, cheese puffs, this bottle of wine or that book or that video game … I’ll start my diet tomorrow, I’ll get up early and go running then crank on work tomorrow, I’ll begin/change/enjoy my life tomorrow. Anything to avoid the reality that I was stuck, and if I wanted different results, I needed to do something completely different.
So I began doing things differently. Hell, I just began doing things:
- I disconnected my cable television (turns out you don’t die from that);
- I reconnected with friends and I even told them they needed to help me get unstuck and I made them commit to spending regular time with me (I know, I’m a dork. LOL!);
- I joined a dating site (not all ideas are good ones);
- I set some limits on the time I spend on the internet in mindless activity (mindful goofing off on Facebook is okay, though, obviously);
- I signed up for meetup.com groups (best site ever invented for the person who feels isolated);
- I enrolled in some professional development courses online (“sharpening the axe” if you will, and man, I freaking love having a sharp axe);
- I began doing that French language Rosetta Stone program I bought over a year ago (Je parle un peu le Français!);
- I started going to bed earlier and waking up earlier (to study, read, exercise, make a healthy breakfast);
- I began meditating regularly (turns out this is the opposite of “thinking” and that’s exactly what I needed);
- I visualized what I wanted to accomplish the following day for a few seconds every night before falling asleep, and woke up setting an intention for the day to remind myself that life is not for “someday,” it is for today.
I start this year of becoming unstuck with the premise that the sole purpose of my life is to be alive. Everything else is just a dance.
Whether I work from a laptop in a café in Paris or from my home office, whether I could lose 30 pounds or whether I’m a size 6 … I am going to show up to life anyway. And while I’m here, I might as well do the best I can, for no other reason than it just feels better.
Where I used to get overwhelmed by all that needed to happen in order to “get where I wanted to go,” not even knowing where to start (so why not just put that off until tomorrow?), I am just showing up to my life. Not the one from my dreams, but the one I have. And turns out I like it far more than I ever realized. There can always be dreams of “more,” but not at the expense of enjoying today. Over it.
I started feeling grateful for all I have around me that I adore — a cozy home of my own; an exciting, challenging and rewarding job; incredible friends; loving and supportive family; interesting and wonderful clients and people wherever I look who help me and make me smile. I am not alone in the world, so the feeling of isolation began to loosen its grip. I am living a life that others might only dream about (including a younger version of me, I might add), so the over-thinking of things that “are not” are becoming replaced by a pretty damn lovely “what is.”
Pardonne moi but why the hell should I wait to be a size six or have more money in my retirement fund before enjoying what is? Why do we always have to be something else? When can we just enjoy who we are?
I’m questioning these things. And becoming incredibly aware and critical of the “input” that goes into my brain. While I love books and blogs and ideas that intend to inspire (or make the author some quick cash if you’re the cynical sort), my new hyphothesis is that some of the stuff people are sellin’ to motivate just might be causing more suffering in the long run.
Showing up for life is a different strategy than I’ve had for a very long time, and the results so far have been incredible. Funny thing is? By letting go of my dreams a little, and becoming more awake to life in this moment, I have begun the process of becoming “unstuck” and I’m moving toward those dreams. They are now something I feel entirely confident I will achieve and I don’t put off the things I need to do to achieve them until tomorrow, I do what I can today. And if they don’t come true that’s okay too, because I’m still alive and that’s all I need to be.
Who knows where I will be a year from now, maybe updating this blog from my macbook in a café in Paris, or maybe still right here in this chair — doesn’t really matter. Life will throw me curve balls and it will twist and turn and there will be suffering and unexpected joy along the way, but that’s part of life too and I’m going to show up for it either way. That way, I won’t ever become stuck again.
I only have to be alive, the rest is just a dance.
As I move forward, so will this blog. I intend it to be both a personal and professional blog, to write more about personal development and life, web design and marketing, web culture, philosophy, thoughts about books I read, technologies I use, things that inspire me and whatever I feel communicates who I am and what I am passionate about.
That’s what a blog used to be when I used to blog in the olden days (2004+), I guess I kinda just want to kick it old school and just let this blog be what it is and not hold too tight to any strategy. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be personal, hopefully it will be helpful and I will try to make it as transparent and real as I can make it. If you like it you will read it and if you don’t you won’t.
For those who have read this far, I thank you and I hope if you do come back, you will enjoy reading it as much as I am looking forward to writing it.
PS If you forgot to get me something for my birthday, it’s okay, you can leave me a comment! But no pressure!