Creating Space to Be Myself Now

One of the key lessons for me of the past few years is that it detracts from my wellness to try to have both my list from before the various crises in my life and my list of what I need and want to do now. However much I say, “oh well that old list is on the back burner”, it is still bubbling and using my mental fuel. I can’t have two #1 items, even if I tell myself that one of them is not active for the moment. I gotta recalibrate and bring it together in one calm vision for myself.

The best thing about accepting that is that the process of integrating my expectations of myself is an inherently therapeutic process. Though the enhanced calm is important, most of that benefit is coming from really giving myself permission to drop things. Not just shove them back ‘for right now’ (i.e., years), but let them go. Discardia is good for the soul and for reducing that overwhelmed, inflamed feeling.

The biggest change is re-orienting myself to my writing and other creating. I am refocusing myself on the creative work and away from the idea of producing products on a particular schedule. It doesn’t make anyone less of a Real Writer to give a work the amount of time it needs to come to fruition. Nor is it mandatory to bring out a new book every couple years. The publishing industry would like you to, but I don’t write for a publisher; I write for myself and my readers.

As I’m sure a lot of stay-at-home parents or others who are outside the paycheck economy have struggled with, validity is not measured by take-home pay. Much of our culture sends a different message, so it takes work to find solid footing to appreciate yourself and what you do. In my case finding that footing is helping me recognize a few “to-do” items on my list which were more cargo cult enacting of “being a publisher” than necessary to the process of writing and sharing my work.

One thing that prompted some of this change is that the medication I was prescribed about a year ago limits me to two cocktails a week. I find I really can’t be an active cocktail writer under that constraint and I don’t want my work and my wellness to be in conflict, so I’m giving cocktail writing a big “I love you, man, you’re the best, no I mean it, I love you, all you guys” sloppy hug and going home.

Not writing a sequel to The Art of the Shim: Low-Alcohol Cocktails to Keep You Level lowers the need for a lot of the capital P publisher infrastructure we’d created. Simplifying that part of my life is some of the work I’m doing this month and I’m already enjoying the lightness it is giving me. I don’t have to put out a book this year because it’s been “too long” since the last one. I don’t have to feel guilty over a long list of posts and essays I thought at one time that I’d write. Cool ideas! Okay to let them go!

This exercise in looking at where my time vs. where my mental energy goes vs. my actual current priorities has also unveiled some time sucks that I can prune away. Goodbye, Twitter. It’s not me, it’s you. You make me anxious and distracted and frankly, you have too many nazis and misogynists and racists and homophobes and paranoid dudes who think giving babies free food is gonna take food off their own plate. Ugh. Good riddance to that distraction.

I looked at the carefully curated list of accounts I followed, added a lot of them to the website feed reader built into WordPress.com, let go of the “need” to keep up with some, and made a monthly reminder to check the other two that couldn’t go in the feed reader to see what they’ve been up to. Then I added the Switcheroo Chrome extension to redirect me to my WordPress Dashboard every time I try to go to Twitter.com. It feels fantastic and I am already getting a lot more done with my day.

Yes, I’m on Mastodon, but both it structurally and my decision of the number of people I follow on there are designed to be very quick to keep up with. It doesn’t devour twenty minutes of my time multiple times a day in the way Twitter can.

I’m excited about this paring down and focusing. I’m excited about the space I’ve created for healing and for whatever creative projects I want to do now. I’m grateful to myself for the permission to let go, to be done with things. My shoulders feel lighter.

I’ll be posting more in the coming days as I part with some of these past projects. I hope you enjoy this somewhat random tour through my interests. 😀

Switching

This afternoon and evening are about choices, changes and letting go. I have decided to no longer own a PC, so I’ve been going through all my boxed software and setting aside items to sell or give away. I’ve also come to the realization that I love DVDs and hate tv, so I really don’t need all these videos. More things go on the sell or give away piles.

Hard to part with items that are available for Mac or on DVD are going on my Amazon wishlist. Ah, and that has prompted me to update my list, a task which does not seem to go well in Mozilla 1.1. Which means the switch away from Microsoft Internet Explorer won’t be happening just yet.

In a month and a half I’ll be looking for a new apartment to switch to, but after a sudden shopping trip this evening (“Oh no! I need another teaspon of turmeric for this recipe! And I’m out of frozen organically grown peas! And I want an extra strong Jamaican Ginger Beer!”) which was completely successful, I am feeling reluctant to move out of range of my lovely neighborhood market, Nabila’s.

[San Francisco readers: If you know of a quiet studio or one-bedroom apartment that will be available in mid to late January or on February 1st which has rent under $1150, no upstairs neighbors, a gas stove, enough room for a California king size bed, more than 6 feet of kitchen counter space (or room for a kitchen table) and an easy route to BART, please drop me an email at this domain. Thanks.]

I begin to think that my first decade or so was for learning about the world around me, my teens were for learning that world didn’t revolve around me, my twenties were for trying new things and my thirties have shaped up to be about focusing on the things I like and which really matter to me. I hypothesize that my forties will be about living that optimized life and seeing if it is as good as I hoped, perhaps adding to it or paring it down further. How about you? What are the themes of your life so far?

A few tips

– When you have too many lemons or limes or oranges and some are going to spoil, slice some thinly and then freeze the slices. Use them in place of ice cubes in water glasses.

– Sliced bread can also be frozen and used for toast with no ill effects.

– In cities, you can pay people to do laundry for you instead of going to the laundromat. The clothing comes back folded and you will get string which you can use to make a ball. Whee!

– Every year, take a day to go through your closet and pull out items to go to Goodwill or sell/trade at Buffalo Exchange or similar second-hand stores. If you’re keeping an outfit purely for sentimental reasons, but you actually never wear it, see if there’s another way to keep the sentiment and not have the outfit taking up space. Could you take a picture of it and keep that? Or make a pillow or scarf out of some of the fabric? As you go through the closet, watch for items you don’t recall wearing in the last year. If you can’t bear to part with them right away, mark them with a clothespin on their hangers. If you wear the item, take off the clothespin. Six months later, get rid of all the things that still have clothespins on them. During this process, it’s a great idea to take everything out of the closet, vacuum in there and then put things back sorted by type (shirts, pants, etc.) this really saves time when getting putting together an outfit when you’re half-asleep in the morning or just going for a particular style (“Hmm, soft comfy pants and a flannel shirt. Which flannel? Ah, red. Good.”)

– You will make clothing shopping less horrid if you pick just a few colors as “yours” and ignore things that don’t fit your palette. It also makes your clothes more flexible as more things can be worn with each other. For example, my main colors are sage green, very pale pink, very pale blue, cream, taupe, black and greys from dove to charcoal. For fun, non-work clothes I also still wind up buying red things, but those go with the greys and blacks.

– Paradoxically, the best way to feel like you have more is to get rid of things. Weeding out things that no longer need to be in my home (that juicer I never use, those books I’ll never reread, that old beloved decorative object which has morphed somewhere along the way into just a thing to dust) always leaves me uplifted and energized and draws my attention back to those things that do still matter to me.

– The library now rents CDs, videos, DVDs and software in addition to books.

– Ben & Jerry’s CoffeeCoffeeBuzzBuzzBuzz does not make a good bedtime snack.

Give Yourself Simple Pleasures

[Here’s an incomplete draft of a post found in January 2004 when I was working on getting all my content published in TypePad]

When you’re feeling a bit low, sometimes you’ll find yourself wandering about looking for something to lift your spirits.

choose something which will remind you of that lazy afternoon and refresh your senses every time you use it

memory and smell

Pacifica lemon grass soap

Zum Bar goat milk soaps, especially their Clove-Mint scent.

Burt’s Bees bay rum exfoliating soap