Every week, I aim to write a concrete post: something tangible about money, or one of my DIY projects. Yet every week, I end up being drawn to write a reflective post. So much of my life is in limbo right now. Switching jobs has meant adjusting to a new schedule and workload, meeting so many new and awesome people. and re-balancing work-fitness-practice-relationships. Also,I’m preparing to buy my first house. Everything in our current home is now impermanent, with a shelf life of 8 months – no more starting big projects, buying equipment/ tools, or altering our home. I’m doing a lot of research and soul-search, and the deeper I go, the more uncertain I feel. All of this change is effecting my finances too. I’m making significantly more than I did before, but I also need to get a down payment squared away. I feel like I’m standing on the brink of real change, waiting, waiting, waiting … All this to say, it’s hard to talk about tangible parts of my life right now.
The funny part is, the tangible posts are the easy ones to write. That’s why there are thousands of hits for, “how to brew beer” or “how to pay off your debt.” What’s hard to write about is the emotional side, the intellectual side, in a way that others can relate to. [Shoutout to our next life for their totally reflective take on personal finance! I think that’s what makes their blog so special :)] I may not be the authority on growing your own food, but I am trying, and experiencing the learning and growing process. I want this blog to not only be an account of my life, but also be useful to others. And right now, I feel that the best way to help is through reflection, not how-to guides.
This means revealing both the good and the bad. I am relatively new to social media (this year!), but I quickly became aware of the highly “curated” phenomenon – you present you best and most beautiful self for the world to see, through your posts and pictures. You don’t post about the ugly, the difficult, the sensitive subjects. Through curation, you can create an image of yourself; a brand. All this sits ill in my stomach.
Not all bloggers are like this, of course! I find the blogs I am most drawn to are the ones that do discuss mistakes and setbacks. When I read “curated” blogs, I end up feeling inadequate. But when I read honest, genuine accounts of overcoming (and failing!) – that’s what inspires me. For example,yesterday I was moved by this post, in which Root Simple talked about how they screwed up planting an orchard in their front yard, and eventually tore it out. One commenter pointed out how refreshing it was to read about someone making a mistake, and taking steps to remedy it. Let’s be honest; pretty much all DIY projects go wrong at first. That’s how you learn and grow!
Confession: I’m making mistakes! But I’m trying to fix them, practicing finding fulfillment in the process, not the outcome. So today, I want to reflect on a post a made six weeks ago, discussing how I create an overwhelmingly busy life for myself.
In this post, I posited that perhaps it isn’t life that gets so busy, but my attitudes, habits, and reactions to the stresses that makes me feel like I can’t ever catch my breath. I talked about using mindfulness to overcome my taskmaster side and find joy and relaxation in my life. I set a goal to make time each and every day for play. Well guess what? That hasn’t really panned out.
I’ve been crazy stressed out and still spend my days powering through chores with no time for nurturing myself. I understand that I need to give up the things that don’t actually make me happy (meticulously cleaning the house, making sure everything is put away/ where it belongs, mindlessly scrolling through tumblr on my phone, spending too much time on the internet). Yet I can’t actually stop doing these things. I catch myself when I can, but often this makes me feel discouraged instead of empowered. The frustration keeps building as more and more days go by and I feel like I don’t have any time for myself. I stare at the pile of books I want to read, see my desk cluttered with DIY Christmas gift supplies, realize the garden needs some serious love, and I think – that’s what I really want to be doing. But still, I don’t!
That’s the thing about having a “philosophy” – or a mindset – that you want to achieve. I want to practice mindfulness and reclaim happiness in my life, I want to be in touch with and love myself, but just wanting it isn’t enough. This is my pitfall – I read all these fantastic, positive ideas and affirmations, and I think – okay. I intellectually comprehend this, so it won’t be hard to translate it into my actions. I’m smart enough to make it work. I read, “love yourself, settle your mind.” I think, “wow, that’s great! That’s the way to live!” But the next moment, my mind is flying in 50 directions and I’m already feeling down on myself.
Intention setting is powerful, but I sit back and expect my “smarts” to let everything work out for me without having to do any dirty work. Then I get frustrated when it doesn’t shake out like this. I set the goal of making time for relaxation and play, but then failed to make the effort. As we know, frustration is a vicious cycle. That’s why I’ve been spinning out so much lately!
One Sunday morning, I sat down with my coffee and decided it’s time to reclaim my free time. I made a GIANT list with pretty markers of EVERYTHING that’s been troubling me. Then I made a list of how I’ve been trying to cope. Then I made another list of what I really want out of my life right now. This took all morning, but it was so worth it. Calling out my demons (over-doing it with the chores, always putting myself last) has totally shifted my mindset. Seeing how I was struggling to cope (eating junk food, drinking, skipping meditation) has given me a tangible list of behaviors to work on changing. Writing out a list of what I love/ want to be doing was really fun because it inspired creativity and sparked interest/ motivation. Also, now I have a clearer idea of what “relaxation/ play/ fulfilling activities” means to me.
To tie this post together, I want to discuss one last thing. Life in limbo is difficult, because I realize that a lot of the things on my list of what I want to be doing, I simply can’t right now due to circumstances/ time/ money. I think A LOT of aspiring homesteaders, early retirees, or just ambitious people can relate to that. This SUCKS!
Here’s what I did: sat down and brainstormed. I really want chickens. Like so bad. I have total “Barnheart.” It’s not going to happen right now though! So I asked myself, what can I do at this moment to work towards that? How about getting a book from the library on how to raise chickens? I’m so freaking ready to buy my own home. Again, not quite there yet. How about committing to my research so I can get the best deal possible? Or learning about what to look for in a home inspection? There’s a lot of fixer-uppers in our area, so why don’t I get a better idea of kitchen and bath remodels? Or going to a free workshop at the Home Depot?
Here’s what I’m doing next week. I’m going to a free cooperative extension workshop at the library called “Understanding Garden Soil.” While I’m there, I’m picking up some books on things I’ve always wanted to learn about: secular witchcraft, Ayurvedic medicine, and a farm memoir. Finally, I’m getting my butt to the yoga studio I love after I finish my 29 day home yoga program on Wednesday. I’m holding myself to that! See how these three little things are so much more tangible than “making time for fun and relaxation”?
Gosh, I can’t tell you how much better and more aligned I feel. This post was inspired by Jenna over at Cold Antler Farm.