Rest

“If you get tired learn to rest, not to quit.”

I’m not really sure whether this quote has a confirmed origin, but you can find it all over the internet, pinterest and the like. It’s one of those simple ones that takes a second glance to sink in. Learn to rest, not quit. Hmm.

We all get tired. That’s one of the biggest hurdles of being an adult sometimes. Everything is so much more tiring. Responsibilities are bigger, and energy is lower. You can’t eat sugar and junk and go running off to play for hours like a kid. You have to eat right and fit some exercise into an already busy schedule in order to keep up the energy you need to get through the day. And you have to make sure you stay on top of everything so you can also get enough sleep. It’s tiring to keep from being tired.

I’m definitely guilty of being an all-or-nothing type of person sometimes. I don’t consider all the options. It’s either do it or don’t do it. Get it done in one sitting or put it off until I can devote that much time at once. Go to the difficult yoga class and work till my muscles are dead or don’t go at all. For some reason, I forget that there are other ways; better ways. Break a large project down into smaller tasks. Go to the therapeutic yoga class instead, or just rest a minute in the middle if I need to. I’m getting better at recognizing these options, but sometimes I still get so caught up in the do it or don’t mindset that I forget the options until it’s too late.

It’s kind of funny, because I’m very much not a black-or-white minded person in other areas of life. I’m usually pretty good at looking at situations from different angles, realizing that most things are a big gray scale spectrum and not one end or the other. It’s just when it comes to the everyday tasks and boring responsibilities that I let myself get stuck and overwhelmed. I mentioned on this blog several times about struggling this past semester. I was very physically organized, more so than ever, so I thought I was golden. But mentally, I was still getting a bit jumbled. I still had that mindset that prevented me from doing things bit by bit instead of all at once, and I learned that that’s the real killer of productivity. The key to is to approach things little by little, because all at once is a gamble. You might run out of time, energy, or ideas. I think I definitely hit a burnout because of that. I did not want to get out of bed most mornings. So going into this semester, when things weren’t coming together and I really wanted to just quit, I took it as a sign that I needed to rest. And I really felt a lot of peace with that decision.

When talking with my friend last week, we both were reflecting on how much we’ve learned about navigating college that we wish we had known ahead of time. All the little things that people try to tell you in high school that don’t really sink in, or weren’t articulated well enough. All the things we wish we could go back and change. But hindsight is 20/20, and some people seem to find those answers earlier than others. With all that said, we are each on our own path with our own timing, and while I feel like my college experience has really altered my life plans, I’m making peace with that. I’ve learned to leave a lot in God’s hands and let myself be guided rather than giving up and getting frustrated when something doesn’t go as expected. I know I have to keep improving and doing my part to work smarter and move forward, but I also know that I can’t control everything, and I sure as heck can’t go back and change anything.

So when it felt like everything was becoming extra tedious, things kept going wrong and I just wanted to give up, I realized that it was ridiculous to get so worked up over school and things in the past. Sure, school is very important, and I’m lucky I have a support system so that I can afford to mess up a little and learn from those mistakes. But if I was so ready to give up on everything just because of some setbacks and frustration, I realized that was a sign to chill out a little. Sometimes every setback feels like the end of the world, and it’s important not to be tricked by the American (and social media/comparison-influenced) go-go-go culture, thinking that your life is over because it slowed down a bit or took a detour. My cousin and I had a great conversation recently about a podcast she sent me that emphasized having an “eternal mindset.” The here and now isn’t everything. You have to look at the big picture, and realize that where you are is a tiny part of it. And from the Christian viewpoint, even our whole life on earth is just the beginning, the preparation for eternity. So why am I so stressed now when there are going to be so many bigger things to conquer in my life?

I hope this is somewhat encouraging. I want to do so many different things, and I already have done so many things, so I’m making a promise to myself not to get too bogged down by setbacks. If I keep learning, working harder and smarter, and resting instead of quitting, I think anything is possible. That’s the mindset I strive to keep, anyway. When you’re no longer excited to wake up in the morning, it’s time to change something, reevaluate, or just rest for once if you can. Whatever you do, don’t quit.

Weird

As a kid, the things that worried me were pretty funny. I was terrified of being dragged away by possums or murdered by katydids, and refused to set foot on the driveway after it had rained and all the worms had crawled out and dried up on the pavement, which was exasperating to my mother but that’s all pretty rational, I think. My favorite animals were crocodiles, then snails, then ducks and otters. I thought maybe if I looked around all the tiny bluet patches dotting my grandparents’ yard, or hung out long enough behind the rhododendron bush at my home, that maybe, just maybe, I’d run into a real fairy. Again, rational enough. I like to write down these random details sometimes so that I can hold onto that childhood magic, because it’s really something I never want to forget. There are millions of details in even just a couple decades of life, and it’s so magical to remember tiny ones you had lost for a while.

On the occasions when I journal, I feel like a weird private songwriter, expanding on the most minute experiences. Sometimes it’s fun to write out detailed accounts of very specific memories to give them a more concrete quality, but sometimes the raw feelings just stick better in your brain when you don’t try to translate them from abstract thought-language. That’s kind of why I feel a little out of place writing on this blog sometimes; if you were to analyze my private journal/blog it started out very straightforward and journal-y and quickly devolved into mostly vague poetry over the years, but it’s funny that I can remember exactly what I was feeling and referencing in even the most seemingly random lines while I feel more detached from the literal accounts.

Just some thoughts. Can anyone relate? I feel so emo saying I journal better in poetry but I feel like if you’re the creative writing/diary-keeping type and you’ve tried it, you can probably relate 100%. I really think abstract creative writing is closer to how our thoughts work, because somehow things tend to get lost in translation when I try to put deep emotions or experiences on paper in plain language. Maybe that’s why music is such a powerful thing for most people; pithy lyrics can hit home harder than long, explicit essays because you tend to automatically read between the lines in the way that you best connect, filtering them through your own context. I think poetry tends to get a bad rap as a weird or overly dramatic outlet, but if you consider the fact that mostly everyone likes to listen to music, I think poetry is the opposite of weird. It’s completely normal.

Once again I’m not overly sure where I was going with this little post, aside from more personal encouragement: be creative. Express yourself in a variety of outlets just for fun. You don’t have to share what you create, or you can if you want to. But don’t let the potential opinions and reactions or non-reactions of others stifle you. And maybe rethink your own reaction the next time you find yourself rolling your eyes at another person’s personal creative expression. Remember the little details about who you were as a kid, when you weren’t concerned about what the world thought.  It’s very freeing when you make the decision to not worry about likes or views, to just make things that make you happy. Easier said than done, I know.

Happy Thursday, wherever you are, and remember: you create your reality, for better or for worse.

Resolutions

We’re a couple weeks into the new year and I’m already plotting all the things I want to accomplish and trying to find ways to manage my time better going forward. Adjusting to a new year always feels a bit odd…it doesn’t really feel weird that it’s 2018, but it feels weird that 2016 is now not last year, but the year before, and 2015 is now three years ago…does that make sense? It seems like it’s not as hard to adjust to a new year so much as it is to adjust to being farther removed from years past.

I usually don’t make specific resolutions; the past few years I’ve found it more helpful to focus on a specific word for the year such as “simplify” or “unplug” to motivate me to cut down on distractions and be more mindful of how I live in general. This year however, I was pretty quick to write down some resolutions that came to me without really thinking, so I figured having these more concrete goals would be helpful for a change.

1. Read more books/be online less

I am the type of person who loves to learn…often to a detrimental point. It is very easy for me to spend hours on the internet reading blogs, articles, watching youtube videos…and because I mostly read and consume information that is actually sort of informative and helpful and inspiring (not just random clickbait) sometimes I get a false sense of productivity. In reality, the internet makes information so easy to access that it’s easy to forget that we don’t need all this information. I don’t need to read about why tardigrades can survive uninhabitable conditions or watch a video on how algorithms learn. These things are interesting, and I think learning about a variety of things is extremely beneficial, but ultimately those things have nothing to do with my current career path and I could be focusing my time better on things that do. Plus, we have a lot of books assigned for yoga teacher training that I had better get a move on… 🙂

2. Become (sort of) conversational in French

Okay, so I didn’t want to just say “improve my French” because that’s not a very concrete or challenging goal, but I must put a heavy asterisk on this resolution and clarify that I probably won’t be anywhere near fluent by the end of the year. I just want to be able to read/write and speak/understand at a solid elementary level, and I know that will involve various methods of intentional practice. I took three years of French in high school and while my ability to conjugate all those irregular verbs kind of went out the window in the years following, I have kept enough exposure to French in my life that I haven’t lost everything. Plus, I dusted off my duolingo app and have kept up daily practice for the last two months, so I can finally at least understand the instagram captions of the few french-speaking accounts I follow without hitting the “translate” button 9 times out of 10. That’s something!

3. Go back to ballet class!

I’ve been focused on yoga lately, but my yoga teacher has also resumed teaching ballet, and I haven’t attended a ballet class in probably over a year now. I definitely miss it, so there’s no more excuses, time to get back to class!

4. Declutter my digital life

I’ve basically run out of physical things to organize after my minimalism kick these past few years, but now I’m starting to feel the weight of all those years of photos on my hard drive…it’s not going to be fun, but this year I need to really purge a lot of unnecessary files and reorganize my digital photos into a system that can work for years to come. (and improve how I backup everything as well!)

5. Illustrate a book

I’m anticipating this one to be the hardest and take the longest of all my goals. If you missed it, the main reason I started this blog was for creative practice toward my future goal of writing/illustrating children’s books. I actually have already written a few things in recent years, but I want to experiment with different illustration styles to pair with my writing. This goal is more about the doing than the end product, but it’s time to really start to bring those images in my head to life. (Keep in mind, by book here I mean a basic picture book, nothing long or complicated.)

Bonus/tentative goals:

I have a few more things that I’d love to work on but aren’t priorities for this year:

-improve my ukulele skills: I got a ukulele for Christmas 2014 and I really have not made much progress since. My limited skills on the ukulele make it much less fun to play than the piano (which I practice almost daily) so I’d like to try to practice more this year.

-have a go-to lunch or dinner recipe that is simple and healthy: I do plenty of baking here and there but not any real cooking, so in an effort to stop eating the same canned vegetable soup every other day, I’d like to settle on an easy recipe or two to diversify my options.

-buy only 12 or less new clothing items this year: This is probably going to be more of a challenge than it seems, but I think just making the extra effort to be mindful of my unnecessary purchases will be great. I definitely have enough clothes, so trying to limit my purchases to an average of one new item a month will be a good exercise in gratitude.

Sorry that got a bit wordy, I’m excited to make some progress on these things this year in addition to completing yoga teacher training in the summer and getting closer to graduating college! What are your priorities this year?