THIS PROJECT BEGAN ON A CHILLY FEBRUARY MORNING IN 2017
Who am I?
By kindergarten, I was already a writer. Hunched over my small, desk/chair, prision cell thing, I didn’t have enough lines on the journal page (under the picture drawing area), to say what I wanted to say. Once prompted, I had something to say. I was so integrated with my internal voice, that I felt like I was running downhill, as the words cascaded onto the page, filling the front, side margin and then the back with my thoughts converted to lines of graphite. Over time my voice was silenced by the rules of academia, forced repetition, citation of all ideas, essentially killed any chance for me to communicate any of my own original ideas in any of my own style. Love eventually turned to hate. But after getting my degree I’m not beholden to the shackles of acadamia, I can start a sentence with the word “but” if I damn well please, and my paragraphs may have a completely crazy number of sentences if that pleases me, and it does.
Why Did I Start This Blog?
So I started this blog to be my white, armchair sitting cat, who I stroke for the hell of it, as I laugh (to not cry) at the joy, beauty, pain and ugliness of life. I plan to make this mental space a fun and safe place for my creative self to live. For me, this place is more than a blog, because it will host my Audible Book Fight Club and the blibary. This is a digital representation of my mind, heart and soul, my experience as a human being on Earth. I’m specifically writing 100 free form blog posts, in response to Mark Manson’s personal challenge to me (yeah it’s personal, because I took it personally…). So here I am at middle age, finding my lost voice as a writer, with the time I have since I didn’t get into medical school as planned (the new plan is to get in as a donated corpse).
My Inspiration to Write
I deny being insired to write, for me, writing is instinctual; A natural part of being alive, which I have to block if I don’t want to do it. It’s my soul’s path of least resistance to get to a state of flow. I think writing is the natural digestion of thoughts, which readers ingest mentally. Writing feels right to me at this point in my life, for reasons yet unknown.
How Did I Get My Sh*t Together?
I’ve always been a writer, but I’m just starting right now (this very sentence) to be serious about actually producing writing on a consistent basis. Now is the time because, I’ve got my shit together at a higher lever than ever before, and also because I learned to stop doing everything my loved ones would roll downhill for me to do as I slowly die inside. Initially I accidentally purchased a year of Instacart, food delivery, instead of just trying it (which I was trying to do), so then I thought, what if instead of the hassle of cancelling, I use that saved time to do something worthwhile in my life for this year just to see what happens? And what came to mind was writing. So I made the jump between observer/planner/wisher to doer/writer/jumper. Later my husband took over the shopping and more and more mundane things I stopped doing, which is awesome, but he never picked up any burdens I didn’t set down first.
There were a few things that made a difference to me, Mark Manson’s book “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck,” was the first step towards defeating my deep fear of failure and imperfection, the guiding light was Charles Duhigg’s “The Power of Habit,” which let me know I had the power and the responsibility of living my life how I wanted to live it (because I’m no sleep walking murderer). I had two years of proactivity denial and time management struggles, but I changed and have been living my best life, as best I can, for a few weeks already, which for the most part means living by my values first, not as an after thought, on a daily basis.
Isn’t Living by Your Values Everyday Too Hard?
Yes and no. Not every value everyday, not an essay and a drawing about how it happened in my journal everyday, but living by one or two of my values each day kills that horrible “did I do enough” feeling I get otherwise. If you never read another post, please take this knowledge with you: there is a free website http://www.lifevaluesinventory.org, which lists a lot of values people don’t talk about in everyday life, it helps you rank them based on how significant they are to you, and then helps you troubleshoot difficulties between values and how to fit them into your life harmoneously. In six seconds a day, you can live by your own values, and it will make you feel better about yourself and your life. I’ll detail the steps of value based living in further posts, but it’s also on http://www.lifevaluesinventory.org totally free. If you only used the internet once in your lifetime, I think finding your soul’s unique value mosaic is the most significant thing you could do with a half hour of your time.
Summary of Life Value Invetory’s Guide to Living by Your Values:
Part A: Recognize you are in control of your own life/destiny.
Part B: Learn about different values.
Part C: Pick which value from your own heart to live by today.
1. Think or Write: What do I want to do today to live by my value of _?
2. Think or Write: What can I do today with what conditions (time, money, help, ability) I actually have?
3. Do That, As Best You Can
4. Think or Write: What you appreciate about what you did do (let go of anything you didn’t do).
5. Write: One thing you learned today, that can help you through tomorrow.
Random Personal Example:
1. Set my value for today: Persistence.
2. What do I want? Show my kids how to garden for fun and to be outside.
3. What can I do? After breakfast, start outside play until lunch, relax if the weather isn’t right.
4. Did I? Yes, yay!
5. Celebrate the effort/journey! My daughter helped me make a fence on a new veggie bed. It was fun.
(So it’s not a big fancy hard thing, but it can be tricky to set aside time to think about it and it can be a big thing, emotionally, gives me a sense of purpose, impact, control over my life, significance, that increases my resilience and helps buffer some of the hard parts of life.)
It took me a lot of trial and error, what sounded good, what I thought my values were, didn’t really resonate with my soul, but letting go of what doesn’t fit freed me to reinvent myself and learn how to ascribe truthful meaning and satisfaction in my life and the past few years have brought me more satisfaction, with who I am as a person, and my own integrity, than anything else has. I found a deep well of satisfaction, previously missing from my life, when I uncovered and started living by my values.
THREE YEARS LATER
Did you think I would finish? Spoiler alert I did. What I learned about myself among other things is it takes 1262 days for me to write 100 articles. It wasn’t at the same pace, last year I wrote 60 posts total last year, this year I wrote 60 posts in 7 months… so writing accelerated. Shyness eased. Perfectionism evaporated. Quality hopefully improved (but at least didn’t drop – I guess why would it?). Check out the centennial post if your interested or live in the present with my most recent post instead.
FOUR YEARS LATER
I took about four years for me to feel comfortable in my own skin as a writer, my whole life people have said “I like your writing,” “you should write” but it’s only very recently that I’ve felt like “I like my writing,” “I should write.” Sounds similar, but it isn’t. It’s one small step for man, but one giant leap for my confidence. Four years ago I wanted to begin a blog, but I didn’t know how to write without second guessing myself, I didn’t know how to finish original images in a way that didn’t take forever and I didn’t know how to run the technical end (which seems easy to people with advanced tech skills, but really isn’t that easy for the average person). So I struggled with each side of blogging, the writing, the images and the tech of the links ext. I’m not an expert by now, but most problems I can solve myself that same day, without quitting or getting angry. There is a ton of artistry to blogging that isn’t talked about much, beyond marketing, having things short form doesn’t mean loss of content, it means really subliming a concept or process mentally in order to have it be short form, people expect videos to be fast, articles to be summarized, but without a loss of information. Also each blog is unique like boats, some boats haul cargo, some people, some both, some are hand crafted, some are toys, some are weapons, blogs are like boats, very diverse in function, style, form and purpose. So no one can really break down the journey for most blogs, because most of us are going somewhere new. The average blogger doesn’t set out to copy a successful blog, which would be okay in most cases, it really seems like we are the nomads of the web who keep migrating to a new frontier that will forever be limitless. I think it’s wrong to say we find niches, to me it feels more like we spin tapestries, together, in a complicated interplay. Some people’s tapestry maybe all blue or all red, but I feel like they are still tapestries. Or maybe it’s just me? Be I don’t think so. I think Rachel Macy Stafford is always building on herself, never off topic with who she was to begin with in Hands Free Mama, I know Lovie Price reflects back between where she was looking forward and where she is looking back, I suspect Mark Manson is forever questioning if he should revise his old articles as his opinions do another 180° in light of new growth or new evidence. When I first wrote this article I was kind of unsure of myself, quite embarrassed, but it is my internal truth and I still find it to be four years later, I’m glad to have it, so I don’t forget that once I didn’t think an ordinary person like me could really find a way to live by my values in everyday life and there was a way that I found out it wasn’t as hard as I thought and it was well worth the effort, because to a certain type of person it’s a huge joy.
“The highest good was the virtuous life. Virtue alone is happiness, and vice is unhappiness.”– Marcus Aurelius
Anyways I now recommend Russ Harris’ value list, though actually it missed the number 1 Asian value “wa” or harmony, so that perhaps a good place to start is African or Hawaiian values or simply looking inward at the times in your life that seem the most significant. Living by both old and new values, I have found modern values hold more traps towards unhappy outcomes. Kind of like bad classical music is already lost, but what is left is epic. New music has wonderful pieces, equal to any classic, but there is a ton of … filler and chaff that you have to watch out for yourself in modern music. I’m Asian, but I find Asian values are often a way for the country to get people to fall in line for the good of the country, I would say the same of american values also, so that it’s not a problem per se to value the group, but it leaves part of your soul empty, the part which was meant to know about your own needs, purpose and aspirations even when they don’t happen to coincide with what would be best for the group. To be interdependent is to know both your needs and who you are and also the group, not just one or the other, but it’s easy (yet difficult) to understand that people who want something from you have a motive for not wanting you to decide for yourself what is best for your own body mind and soul.