Thursday, May 21

But what does it even mean? | Learning to live with less.

First things first: I'm dedicating this to Giana, because without her encouragement, I wouldn't have even been willing to dig deep into what was bugging me the last few months. For that, I'll always be eternally grateful.... 

Before the layer of colored sticky notes littered my desk
Before I hit snooze a dozen times on my alarm to call a client
Before I worried about if I had the right hashtags and if anyone would even really find this blog
Before I had to triple check my calendar(s) every morning to make sure I wasn't missing a client meeting or shoot
Before I had 50 new unread emails in my inbox
Before talking calendars and gps' and ads blaring at gas stations (as I quietly pump gas)

Before any of this...
there existed a quietude
in this heart of mine.

At least that's what I tell myself.

But it's simply not true. Long before dings and tweets and facetime chats I was still a thinker and thoughts filled my mind that provided noise 24-7. Only now, the noise is that much louder. Now, in addition to all of the internal garbage I wade through, (man is that tough in and of itself!) I drown in the obscenity of all the noise in this world and I feel probably similar to my intestines after eating a twinkee.... absolutely nauseous from the overload.

Many times when I get in the car I'll go on auto-pilot and turn on the radio or spotify then 10 seconds later turn it off... because even music is NOISE and I don't want any of it. I just crave peace. Quiet

If you're sitting somewhere right now and you have the opportunity, just notice the sounds around you. Notice your breath. Notice the way the chair feels under you, your feet on the floor. Do you remember the last time you were outside under the night sky staring at a million stars or standing on the edge of a canyon that made you feel so small... or walking in the woods and the sun catches your eye just so and the only thing you can hear is the crunch of leaves beneath your feet...
This is the kind of quiet I'm talking about... the soul-finding kind of quiet.

I was trying to understand what magnified this over-loaded feeling (having a 2 yr old that destroys a room in 30 seconds?!), because when I'm honest with myself, I feel like a boiled frog. One day, I woke up and realized that little changes over time brought me here, with a messy office I can't keep clean, etc etc.

It was the very week I began reading Caroline Joy's blog: Unfancy, ironically as the Universe would have it, the very week she decided to stop blogging! Man the Universe is funny. I saw how much freedom Caroline had, in thought, in wardrobe (oh my gosh my closet was out of control!) and most importantly how all of those little decisions helped her create an entire lifestyle of freedom. The more I read her words, the heavier the anchor on my soul. 

I couldn't keep on.

So this is where I'm at. It sounds so dark and depressing doesn't it? Man it sure feels that way at times, but I'm not a cynic. On the contrary, I firmly believe we humans are capable of changing and morphing into something better and more beautiful and that is where I stand. I stand with this weight on my shoulders and I've drawn a line in the sand and everything I despise about where I am now is behind me. Ahead is the present enigma: HOW can I get from point A (where I am now) to point B (freedom, of THINGS, of SCHEDULE, of NEGATIVE THOUGHTS, of BUZZING ALARMS, of NEVER FEELING like I can get ahead).

I love saying "on the cusp"... of anything! Because I believe life itself is a journey. We can never possibly fully arrive and as scary as that sounds, it's also really freeing. Here we are, and we'll always be here, with intention and purpose and endless endless possibilities. I love possibilities.

I've bought probably $100 worth of books over the last two weeks. I'm not even joking. It was that or go to the shrink and lately I've felt more compelled to read other people's stories of success than just wallow in my own (not so) misery. SO here's a list of just a few of the books I bought that had me arrive at some really interesting conclusions.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing 
WOW is this book phenomenal. It tells me exactly what I have been searching for: declutter the world around me (ie: THROW SHIT AWAY) haha and suddenly your entire life is full of clarity. The main reason people have problems with keeping things clean is because they just keep reorganizing their things instead of getting rid of what's not essential! A brilliant basic concept. After doing this in my closet and kitchen alone, I'm beginning to see this book is as valuable as a genie in a bottle. I don't know at what point I started not being able to throw things away but after filling trash bags and selling things on ebay and craigslist just in the last week... I'm pumped to tackle my office and the garage! (I'm not even joking!!)

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
I need to sit down and finish this because it's so freaking empowering! As I explained in the last blog post, I'm what some call an ambivert. Yep, a real word, meaning half introverted half extroverted. However! My introverted moments needed explaining and justifying because, as this book poignantly points out, there is a lot of shame and misunderstanding in quiet, in recharging on one's own time, in not always being the funny loud one. But there is absolutely no shame to be had and in fact, knowing who you are is so empowering! It's accepting who you are that makes you that much more able to live up to your potential. No more closet-introvert here. (How can I command a large group of people with quietude and not even get angry because things aren't working out as planned? Introversion, people. It has it's up sides. :)

Design Mom: How to Live with Kids: A Room-by-Room Guide
I read about this book on @livefreemiranda's blog and it's another life changer. Reading this gave me the design tips and style to understand WHY I hated my home. I don't hate my home, per se, just my lack of ability to do anything with it. The truth is we've lived in this house for the last year and I haven't been able to decorate, put up curtains or even hang a single picture! Not joking! She has so many practical solutions, affordable solutions for small spaces and for using what you have. I love that. I'm forever indebted to Miranda for posting about it! Thanks M!

Slow Family Living: 75 Simple Ways to Slow Down, Connect, and Create More Joy
Clutterfree with Kids: Change your thinking. Discover new habits. Free your home
These two books are pretty self-explanatory based on the titles and I'd probably just be thankful to check these out from the library, but they're good starter books. They got me thinking "How can I slow down, get rid of things and change my thought/behavior patterns??"

The Compound Effect
I had to save the best for last. I dug through Caroline's blog and this was the book that inspired her to begin changing her life. I seriously did not even finish the first chapter and sat down that next morning at 4am and wrote the outline for a book that's been on my heart for years. Then, gave the un-finished book, The Compound Effect, away to a dear friend. So I need to buy another copy. Just buy it. You won't regret it, I promise. The premise is that you must change your behavior, even one behavior pattern that will affect you years down the road. Well, that's easy, I thought. That's what's so appealing about it. It really is easy to find peace...

Anyway, after not finishing a single one of the books but having "ah-HA!" moments with every single one, I've arrived at this conclusion:

Simplify, Carli,

I've found if I wake up in the morning and the very first thing, instead of answering emails, instead of replying to a new inquiry, instead of walking into my office and making sure I have a designated to-do list, if I do something that ENERGIZES me (read poetry, make tea or a perfectly brewed french press and sit outside and listen to the birds, tear out magazine pages from the Anthro catalog that I'll use to write my bffs), if I do THOSE things, then the rest of the day somehow magically seems a bit more bearable. If I do yoga, if I read the strips of paper that fill my gratitude jar, if I meditate, close my eyes and sit on the cool concrete and just be... even for a few seconds before my mind starts wandering back to what I have left to do on that desk...

Here is the truth: owning your own business is hard f--in work. Doing something, one thing toward leading a more simplified life is better than nothing. I'm learning self-care is essential. I'm learning to delegate (through our amazing office manager Jessica, from Gal Friday!!) and I'm learning that even though I'm sitting at a messy desk in a messy office that hasn't yet been organized.... I'm learning to be quiet, that quietude first starts in me....

cheers to that



kristen said...

love this so much! cheers to smplfy life: the good life.

Nichole said...

I love, love, love this post. I was having tea with a dear friend today and I we were talking about these issues. Of grabbing onto life instead of the reversal. Of getting rid of the treading water feeling. Of feeling entirely alive and awake. Ah, it's not easy!!