One of my summer projects: strawberry cake. (From my Instagram.)
Y'all, I don't know about you, but I had one of those summers where my reach far exceeded my grasp. I had such ambitions. SUCH ambitions. But my friend Tanya reminded me that hello, it's SUMMER, you silly peach, and summer has other plans for some of us.
I'm still catching up with that summer to-do list, but I'm also looking at it and asking:
If this plan moves forward successfully, do I actually have capacity for its success?
What are the personal commitments I'm neglecting to acknowledge? (What is the labour I'm making invisible?)
How can I optimize my work for flow, in every sense?
You see, I spent July and August pretending that summer wasn't for things like…
Going to see that synth-pop band from my younger days and dancing my face off.
Taking my kids to the beach and exploring tide pools.
Upping my exercise routine because the good weather makes it so much easier to be active.
Long, meandering, insightful conversations with friend-mentors that will fuel my writing for months.
Ice cream, fresh berries, and sandal tans.
Reuniting with faraway family, and learning to love them better.
Witnessing, grieving, and raging against the catastrophic effects of climate change in the earth, air, and water.
Resting. Resting. Resting.
When I read through that list, I realize Ohhhh… no wonder I'm not being more PRODUCTIVE. (All caps because that word is my bȇte noire and a sure sign my inner critic is partying it up.)
Of course, it's not just summer that holds these other commitments; it's all the time. Here we are in late September, and the projects that make it onto my to-do list are being juggled in amongst the ones that don't: emotional support for all my survivor friends who are being re-traumatized by the Kavanaugh headlines; big-picture life plan stuff with my spouse; battling a head cold; and so on.
(If you're in the Southern Hemisphere and you've read this far, thank you for your patience and I promise I do remember that half the world is experiencing very different weather right now. Next time I'll write about something less hemisphere-specific.)
I'm remembering now that pushing my goals back by a few weeks will not only give me more breathing room, but also produce more flow as I stop battling what's in front of me. That when I look ahead to the next step, maybe it could benefit from another long lunch with my mentor-friend. That when I think ahead to next summer, I'll be glad for having gone to see that band, because you never know when they'll stop touring.
All this to say: if you ever underestimate the scope of your personal commitments, I see you. If you resist the natural flow of things because you're pushing to tick things off your to-do list, I get it. Let's notice our habits together and take Tanya's good advice.
If you're inspired to share your replies to the above questions, I'm listening. Just hit reply and send them my way.
I got my first byline in TIME magazine this month, with a six-page spread(!) on "The Real Secret to Life Balance." Their design team did a beautiful job of visualizing my Balance Matrix. And here's something novel: it's not available online. If you'd like a print copy (what a concept!), you can order it on Amazon. (I haven't found an indie seller to link to, sadly.)
On my blog, 5 ways to redefine business growth digs into the kind of growth that isn't typically reflected in your financial statements – but that indicates real progress. And I've been more active on my Facebook page, sharing examples of really great sliding scale pricing, big corps pushing back on unchecked capitalism, and of course, networking tips from Inigo Montoya.
"You don’t need to come to us. You are always already on our territory." Swimsuit line Chromat writes some excellent new pool rules. Who we don't talk about when we talk about Weinstein. A Twitter thread on things that happen in Silicon Valley and also the Soviet Union (e.g. "productivity largely falsified to satisfy appearance of sponsoring elites"). “The thousands of retailers and independent businesses that must ride Amazon’s rails to reach market are increasingly dependent on their biggest competitor: Lina Khan aims to redefine antitrust law in the internet age.
And this excellent piece on M.I.A. and the defense of nuance: “I don’t want to absolve Maya. What I’m more interested in is how we can say “problematic fave” while acknowledging that we are all problematic to someone. Is there compassion here? Is there space to grow?”
Erykah Badu's Tiny Desk Concert, "an almost spiritual experience" according to NPR staff. Big Freedia and Lizzo's new collaboration needs to go on your late summer playlist.
And if you've ever cared a whit for art, clothing, and/or craft, find out when McQueen is showing near you.
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