Intentionalism

I’m always on the search for a new person to inspire me. I’m somewhat a product of my generation in that I like when people who seem like they have some of their shit together tell me what to do.

Oh, you clawed your way out of debt and are a successful freelancer that’s not desperately selling your organs online? You must be woke, tell me your ways. And also explain what woke means. 

I stray from this in one way: I’m picky. I’m extremely picky.

I don’t just take YouTube or Instagram’s suggestions and run with them. Their algorithms are programmed to show us content similar to what we’re already consuming. This doesn’t work for me since I’m the Goldilocks of content consumers. It has to be just right. And chances are if you’re the person standing next to the person I like on the scale of style, values and content… I don’t like you. Well, it’s not that I don’t like you, it’s just that I won’t go out of my way to keep up with what you’re doing.

Just because I like Rich Roll, doesn’t mean I’m going to like stuff Tim Ferris does. I like hearing about Tim Ferris through the lens of Rich Roll, but I can’t seem to get on board with content from him. If you don’t know who these people are, start with Rich Roll. He’ll introduce you to everyone you need to know. 

To suit my taste, you need to have a clean aesthetic, a simple and authentic message, and unique content. This is more difficult to come by than it sounds.

I’ll cut to the chase a little more quickly. I’ve started to follow a YouTuber called Matt D’Avella. Instantly, I was drawn to the quality of his videos and the attention to detail he’s given every shot. It’s clearly the work of a true professional and he definitely cares about what he’s doing. I love him. Is it too soon in our relationship for me to just come out and say it? I love him. If I start writing his name with hearts in the back of my Moleskine planner, you can notify my boyfriend.

He has this short video about minimalism (he was actually the guy who did that documentary on Netflix about Minimalism, though I only found this exciting news out from simply watching his videos – I loved this documentary), where Joshua Fields Milburn of the Minimalists (see link) says about minimalism, 

For me, the ism is less important. You can call it minimalism, I think it’s the perfect word. I also think it’s the most imperfect word because sometimes it scares off people. Sometimes it scares people enough to actually make some changes which is great, but if it’s too austere of a word, then you can say essentialism, you can say intentionalism, you can say living-within-your-means-ism. Whatever ism you want to use, but it really has to do with living a more meaningful life.

*cue a montage of stuff blowing up as a metaphor for my brain*

I truthfully stopped listening after intentionalism. It hit me like a rock hitting water and cornstarch. It made a huge impact once it hit, but once I sat with it, it sunk right in.

Everyone talks about mindfulness, they talk about minimalism. I’ve only encountered intention as part of a yoga class – an intention is a thought or a feeling you set for the class as a dedication of sorts. Sure, at the root, I guess mindfulness and intentionalism are both kind of synonyms of each other when it comes down to it – but intentionalism is different because of the feeling it gives you when you think about doing something with intention instead of mindfully.

Mindfulness is peaceful, it’s taking note of what’s happening and not being affected by the sea of actions happening around you. It’s the pebble at the bottom of the river that lets the water rush over it without trying to stop it.

Intentionalism is action. Intentionalism is the deliberate lack of action. It’s choice and thought and action, inaction, stoicism, mindfulness, minimalism, zero waste, budgeting etc. etc. etc., all rolled into one. It’s motivational, it’s empowering and it’s easy to manipulate into something unique – into a term that works for you.

Mindfulness feels like a slow walk in the park, enjoying every flower, the smell of the breeze and acknowledging the present moment.

Intentionalism is choosing that present moment. It feels like marching down the street, feeling the journey rush over you, seeing the crack in the pavement and stepping over it, and taking control over which flowers you want to see today, or if you’d rather sit in a coffee shop and write a blog post. 

Both are valuable and you can’t (read: shouldn’t) live without either. But there is a certain level of control and choice we all have that gets left behind when people talk about enjoying life and being present for the journey.

So this is the mission. Keep moving forward, or slow down to a pace that feels right for you. Heck, screech to a stop if that’s what you need. Just do it intentionally.

“No.” is a complete sentence.

I fully expected that having time off would call for a reevaluation of where I am in my life, where I’d like to be and how I’m really feeling about it.

I had a difficult time going from work mode to vacation mode.

I’m not the type of person who can just hand over responsibility and be unphased by the possibility of everything falling apart while I’m gone. I kept thinking, “If something goes wrong, it’s my fault. It was my job to set it up properly before I left.”.

This is the one disease I’ve gained by working for a small business. Growth in a small business means someone is in charge of implementing systems that will help the whole thing work smoothly. I’m one of those people in my workplace.

My need to prove myself, the things I tell myself about how I’m a quitter (that this has made me a failure in the past), and my loyalty to people I respect (wanting to make sure they’re comfortable and everyone is taken care of) have made for the perfect storm for self-deprecation and guilt if I’m not pulling 3x my weight and working an insane amount of hours.

At the other end of that, I end up thinking, “This is not efficient, it shouldn’t take me 50 hours a week to do this. This must mean I’m not doing a good job.”.

For the past few months, I’ve struggled. A lot. And I can’t seem to stop talking about it or thinking about it or writing about it, or worrying what people think and stressing that I don’t have anything to fall back on if I fail at this job.

Towards the end of this week, something clicked. And, unexpectedly, two random people have changed my life.

One is Jane Fonda. The other is Thomas Edison.

I was watching the Netflix documentary called Feminists: What Were They Thinking?, and Jane Fonda was talking about the opening titles she had to pose nude in for the Sci-Fi movie BarbarellaShe notes that she hated being naked but she trusted the director’s vision. In the end, she said, she just didn’t know how to say no. And here’s where my heart dropped. She said (and I paraphrase),

“It wasn’t up until ten years ago that I learned “No.” is a complete sentence.

No.

No explanation, no beating around the bush (so to speak). Just. No. If Jane Fonda can say it, I can say it.

As I’ve said, I have a hard time with failure. This has been the theme of my thoughts during and after sessions with a therapist. And I don’t know what brought it on. It’s not like I was heavily pushed to succeed as a child. No one punished me if I didn’t do well in school or in sports. I’m just naturally hard on myself when I can’t do something better than others or feel like I’m moving forward when I’m trying my best.

Here’s where Edison comes in.

Thomas Edison tried somewhere between one thousand and ten thousand times before creating the light bulb.

Along the way, he realized he was experimenting and not failing. It’s the same motion, but a different outlook.

Aha! I’m experimenting.

Being part of a small business has given me the platform to experiment without being 100% responsible for the outcome. Because I’m not. I’m part of a team who is supposed to support me and work with me.

Is it time to move forward and conduct new experiments? I’m not sure.

But, can I continue to strip myself of my energy and sanity for another person’s project?

No.

 

 

Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

I read an article

entitled “The Most Important Thing Nobody Taught You”. It starts,

…we can’t help but run from the problems of our emotions into the false comforts of the mind.

When I read this, I exhaled a deep whistle in response. I can relate.

It goes on to talk about how solitude doesn’t mean you have to feel alone.

How we spend so much time in the act of distracting ourselves and trying to be inspired, that we forget the most inspiring and stimulating experiences happen when we’re alone.

Boredom should become a place to discover self-knowledge, do some reflecting and experience the world around us in greater, slower detail. To feel more alive and connected.

Interestingly, the main culprit isn’t our obsession with any particular worldly stimulation. It’s the fear of nothingness — our addiction to a state of not-being-bored. We have an instinctive aversion to simply being.

Even if you’ve considered this before, or attended a yoga class or have done some meditation, we can all benefit from a repeated revisitation of the idea.

I think part of it is that people don’t realize there is a possibility to simply be. That there is something that exists beyond the realm of our real world melodramas.

I’m attempting to not sound like a preacher here, but to communicate thoughts and also do some reflecting of my own:

Why do I keep losing sight of myself? Well, idiot, it’s because you’re not paying attention. You’re not looking at yourself. Step back, try to be alone from time to time and carry a mirror.

Here’s the article. You know, if you’re interested.

I think I should try to write some stuff.

Not only because I like the physical act – writing in pen, pencil, hearing the satisfyingly soft tap of my fingers against a keyboard – but because I feel like my head has a lot to say. I have lots of weird questions, normal questions, stories I tell myself, stories I want to tell other people, good poetry, bad poetry, some jokes and a bunch of gibberish that might actually also make sense to someone other than myself.

My downfall is I can’t seem to organize everything. I can’t organize it in my head or on the page unless I already know what I’m supposed to be writing about: an email, a social media post, or creating content for a hand-out or a poster. It’s almost always been part of my job. But I cannot seem to sit down and write about things I like. Without a prompt. Without a purpose for it.

I’ve tried in the past. The pattern is ironic and embarrassing.

It always goes like this:

“So I can’t seem to sit down and write.”

This, I always feel, is kind of relatable and might catch someone’s attention. I already did this here. See? Ironic. Might also turn out slightly embarrassing. We’ve not quite reached that level, but standby.

“I feel like maybe me sitting down and writing will help someone, or inspire someone. Nah, who am I kidding, right? Chances are, there’s no one reading this. And if there is, you probably know me as I am, a 20 something college drop-out whose only skills are cake decorating, sarcasm and eating. Or, it’s just my mom reading this. Hi mom.”

Here’s where it starts to get embarrassing. I’m rambling and self-deprecating. Hi mom.

“I like embroidery, people, biking, yoga, design, art, entrepreneurship, zero waste, and cooking.”

It then starts to turn into something my 7-year-old self would write in that really widely spaced lined journal because my Grade 1 teacher Mrs. Friend (yes, that was her actual name) asked us to describe ourselves. There was also room at the top for a drawing – remember those notebooks? They were sick. Do they still sell those? I’d buy one.

I digress.

Somehow describing yourself at that age turns into either a list of your physical attributes, or what you’re into. Which was probably Pogs, Polly Pocket, mini sticks, Pokemon, or colouring. I HAVE HAZEL EYES AND BROWN HAIR. 

Now, I catch myself doing the same thing as if being so overwhelmed as an adult has caused me to revert back into that seven-year-old self when trying to communicate who I am and what I want. Further evidence: when I try to tell someone what I want, I start to cry.

If you know me, then you know this is the truth. I am always crying. If you don’t know me, you’re just going to have to trust me on this, and sooner or later, you’ll see it too.

All of this aside, somehow I’ve managed to land good jobs, climb a ladder or two, and accomplish some things.

I’ve waded my way through more than several men (hi mom) and they’ve waded through me. I’ve learned who’s good for me and who isn’t.

Somehow I’ve been able to hold onto someone who has their shit together and only wants me to get my shit together when I’m ready to get my shit together. Who likes me both because and despite everything listed above.

But here I am. Rambling on about crying, Mrs. Friend, and my hipster-esque range of interests.

If all of those things interest you too, including finding out why I’m crying and seeing me create some stuff, then I guess you’re in the right place.

I’m challenging myself to write a blog post every day for a year, and after that, we’ll see where it takes me. I’m hoping my writing will improve, I’ll feel motivated to create, and I’ll find some stuff to talk about.

I’m just trying to end the pattern, learn about who I am, ask for what I want, and find a way to keep it all together.

Hey world.