“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

Iceland Part 1

Yesterday we woke up bright and early in Keflavik.

Okay, so it wasn’t bright since the sun here rises at about 9am and sets at about 5pm this time of year. But whatever, just take the expression with a grain of salt. You can ask our 7:30am cab driver for some, he apparently has lots.

We picked up our car at KEF and started our drive to South Iceland. We’re spending three days (ish) sightseeing and staying in a small fishing town called Hofn (there’s an accent on most of these words, but I’m unsure of the keyboard shortcuts for them).

We knew Iceland was going to be beautiful, but we never expected to find mountains around every corner. Everywhere you look is more stunning than the last. More times than we could each count you could hear, “Where the heck are we?” being muttered under Adrian’s breath.

And the landscape and weather changed like, 8 times since we’d left Reykjavik. At one point we left rain, came through a clear patch and was nearly swept off the road by wind and snow all within the span of 45 minutes.

I honestly can’t believe how incredible the landscape it. I’m sure there are many more surprises awaiting.

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.

Let’s compare embroidery to life

Because who doesn’t love a good reach for a metaphor?

If you don’t already know, I spend a lot of my downtime putting a needle and thread through the fabric in an embroidery hoop. It’s not something I ever saw myself doing, but I love it. I believe I’ve finally started to grasp a couple key things about this craft that I think I can also turn into a cool life lesson moment.

Because you know, I’m an expert and know how to navigate life like a pro (read: I have no idea what I’m doing but I’m going to try and be wise here for the sake of the metaphor and try to follow my own advice).

Here’s a fun list:

1. First of all, f*ck what all of the “experts” and tutorials tell you. The only way you’re going to figure it out is if you figure it out.

2. Through trial and error, I’ve learned that any project is basically going to turn out pretty good if you treat each move like it means something.

3. Not every project will turn out well, and that’s okay. They’re hilarious to look back on and will remind you of how far you’ve come.

4. Sure, once you get some momentum, you’ll get to the end a lot faster, but the quality will suffer. Make sure you slow down and enjoy the process.

5. Don’t let other people guide your needle. That’s frickin’ dangerous and they probably suck at embroidery (read: don’t let other people guide your path, that’s frickin’ dangerous and they probably suck at embroidery).

It’s still art, and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. You’re creating it, so find some way to take pride in it.

It’s still your life and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You’re creating it, so find some way to take pride in it.