Wear the heck out of it

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On Monday we talked about choosing 1 item to use up and finish. From hair products to books, to candles, making a decision to use and enjoy 1 item until it is gone can be freeing. Today we are going to put a twist on this and talk about Show Pony Summer Series Method #4 Wear the heck out of it. Dresses are a category of clothing I love to ignore but am always drawn to when shopping. What’s the result? I have a bunch of dresses I never wear 🙂

Heading into the summer I thought ‘enough is enough’ these are turning into show ponies, how can I make them workhorses? To begin, I chose 1 dress to focus on, the one I was most intimidated to wear, my white embroidered dress. Then I gave myself permission to wear the heck out of it. this meant stains, sweat, wear and tear were allowed. This gave my brain permission to wear it whenever, wherever. 

  • Ice cream with a friend? Check
  • Shopping? Check. 
  • Heading to the beach? Check

This turned the question from what are all the reasons I can’t wear this dress to keep it safe? into, where are all the places I can wear this dress? Instead of focusing on all my dresses, I focused on one dress and it got out of the closet often! When I thought about wearing a dress, my brain fought me on whether I should wear a dress or not. when I thought about wearing this dress my brain thought ‘oooooh another opportunity to wear it.’ I set a goal for my brain and every time I wore this dress I felt rewarded for meeting this goal. I’m wearing this dress right now as I type this.

Check out my lightweight blog writing set up

Another item I gave myself permission to wear the heck out of was my quarter zip sweater. Do you ever try something on in the store and get that feeling you’re going to love it? That was this sweater. It was my colour, a quarter zip (big enough for my head and hair to get through easily) and the perfect length. What can I say, I was in love. I know that this love can quickly turn into protecting this item, keeping it safe, and making up a bunch of rules for when and where it is safe to wear it. Knowing this about myself, I made the intention that it would be my summer workhorse sweater. I would wear it whenever and wherever. Heading to the beach? This has become my go-to. Wearing a dress and need a layer? I know what to reach for. 

The best part of giving myself permission to wear the heck out of something is that I get so many opportunities to enjoy it. I no longer have to pace myself or take it slow, I can use this item all the time. It feels good to have a workhorse that I love and that I get to use.

Do you have a summer item you can wear the heck out of? 

  • Perhaps it’s choosing one bathing suit you always reach for. 
  • Maybe it’s pulling out a pair of sandals you turn into a workhorse. 
  • Perhaps it’s a dress you thought you couldn’t wear every day. 

Once you give yourself permission to wear the heck out of something you’ll be amazed at all the opportunities and occasions you think to wear it.  

Photo credit Jen Newman Photography

1 And Only 1, To Get It Done

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Once we start looking for show ponies we can start to see entire categories made up of show ponies! Where do we even begin? Often these items are ones that can be used up or finished, including hair products, makeup products, and candles,  the categories are unending, but we are ignoring ALL of them. Finally, we think, enough is enough and vow to start using ALL the things, ALL at once. However, we quickly become overwhelmed by just how many items there are to enjoy and find ourselves back in our old ways, avoiding them. This leads me to Show Pony Summer Series Method #3, 1 and only 1 to get it done.

The category that got out of control for me was hair supplies. In an effort to control my curly mane, I ended up buying multiple new products to try. Somehow my cupboard was bursting with 5 different hair styling products and I was still using the one I’ve always used (so much for trying new things). I realized my mistake: I was becoming overwhelmed by the options and gravitated to what I knew, instead of learning how to use a new product every time. This also had the frustrating outcome of feeling like I was never making a dent in the collection.

Then I had the genius idea to try 1 and only 1. To begin, I chose one product and kept it in my regular spot in the bathroom. The rest of the products I moved into our closet where the overflow bathroom storage is kept. I then gave myself permission to use this product after every shower. This method has two benefits, the first being I didn’t have to make a decision about what to use. Instead of getting overwhelmed by how many products I had, and which one to use, I reached for the product I had pre-decided to use up. The second benefit was that I felt like I was making a dent in my hair product stash. Instead of slowly using bits of each one, I saw a reduction in the total number of bottles. Every time I finished a product I felt a sense of accomplishment, I had learned how to use a new product, and how to enjoy my items. Sure, some months my hair looked better than others because the product wasn’t the best, but I stuck with it, experimenting and trying until the bottle was all used up. 

Alright, you’re convinced. Where to begin?

First things first, discover your show pony category. I suggest looking in the bathroom, your art supplies, your hosting supplies, the fancy section of your closet, and your candle collection. 

Pick out 1 item. Don’t overcomplicate it. It can be your favourite, something you’ve already started, something you want to get rid of. The thing to focus on is choosing just 1. 

A side note about if the idea of intentionally using up a product intimidates you or does not appeal to you. I get it, you’re thinking. But Gill, if I use this 1 item every time, it will be gone in no time. I want to stretch it. To enjoy it. To savour it. I get it, keeping something for longer seems like a better idea in theory. Having a hair product for a year instead of 3 months feels like a better use of your money. However, I would encourage you to ask yourself the following questions:

  • How long do I want to keep this product in my life?
  • What am I afraid I will lose by using up this product?
  • If this product were to be ruined, broken, or stolen today, would I be sad I didn’t use it when I had the chance?

I find these questions help me remember that our stuff is meant to be used, and saving or storing our stuff is not the point.

Let’s say 1 bottle of shampoo has 30 washes. You can either use those 30 in a row or over a year, it’s still 30 washes. When you give yourself permission to enjoy an item you’re not arguing with yourself. Today, tomorrow, next week, another time, perhaps when my hair is less greasy? These arguments with ourselves are exhausting. Simply give yourself permission to enjoy, every time, even if it’s 50 times in a row.

Another great place to use the 1 and only 1 method, is your nightstand. Do you have a pile of books you keep meaning to read? You’re a couple of chapters into each of them, but never seem to find the time? Every night they call to you, but you can’t decide which one to pick up, so you scroll on your phone instead. This happens because you’re overwhelmed by the decision of which book to read. So, pick just ONE to put on your nightstand and put the rest out of sight. I don’t care where the other ones are kept, you only want the book you are reading looking at you. 

I can hear it now, buuuuuut Giiiiill, how can I choose? I am reading these for different reasons, I couldn’t possibly pick just one. Alright, but reading a little bit of multiple books means you finish none and continue to be overwhelmed. Pick one, commit to one, finish one. Then you’ll make your way through that pile faster than you can say ‘are they making it into a movie?’

Do you have a category of show ponies? Will you pick just one out of the category and intentionally use it up? From books to hair products I’d love to hear your experience with this method!

Dress it Down

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Here’s how it goes: you buy an item for a special occasion, perhaps it’s a statement necklace, fancy dress, high heels, or power blazer. The event comes and goes and your special item returns to your closet, and you’re left wondering, will I ever wear it again? The trap we fall into is we believe we need the exact same level of event to wear it again. This item has now been elevated to special or fancy events only because this was the intention you bought it with. This can only be solved with Show Pony Summer Series Method #2: Dress it Down!

Often our intention for why we buy an item becomes mixed up with the item’s purpose. If we bought a dress for a wedding, an interview, or a birthday, we become convinced that we can only wear that item for special occasions. Since it debuted at a fancy or important event, we convince ourselves this item is special, fancy or different and warrants something fancy to come out of the closet. 

My favourite thing to do with these items is to dress them down. Sure your dress may be fancy but paired with sneakers, a scarf, and a casual cardigan no one would know it’s fancy. If your item is a pair of heels, pair them with ripped jeans. Perhaps you have a power blazer that you can contrast with sneakers. A bonus to this strategy is it helps your brain adjust to the foreign concept of wearing something fancy for a regular occasion. When you pair your fancy dress with your favourite, go-to sneakers and scarf your brain takes comfort in the familiar items and focuses less on the new item. 

Alright, you’re convinced to try dressing it down, but where to start?

First, pick your item and make an intention to wear it soon after the event. The longer you wait, the harder it will be, if possible, wear it within a week.

Second, pull out your favourite everyday staples, the ones that make you feel great. Perhaps it’s your stud earrings, your scarf, your handbag, your sneaker/Blundstone’s.

Next, have fun experimenting, you aren’t going for a certain look, you’re playing, trying, contrasting, matching, and mixing.

Fourth, wear it out of the house. 

My most recent success with this was wearing a bridesmaid dress to work, one week after the wedding. It was not your typical bridesmaid’s dress, it was from a regular clothing store and a very neutral colour. However, even though this dress didn’t scream bridesmaid, it didn’t stop my brain from screaming its resistance when I went to wear it to work. This is fancy, this should be special, what are you doing? So, I gave my brain some comfort, I paired it with my workhorse scarf, a cardigan I had worn 190303 times, and my Birkenstocks. The result? An amazing new outfit. I learned how much I love this dress, how comfortable it is, and how it swishes while I walk. I sent a pic to the bride and she was inspired to wear one of her dresses as well.

Wearing my bridesmaid dress at work, one week after the wedding

Do you have a fancy item you want to wear in your everyday life? How could you dress it down to wear it more often and to more events? Happy mixing and matching!

Photo Credit Jen Newman Photography

Put it in Plain Sight

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Welcome to the Show Pony Summer Series! This summer we are taking our show ponies, those special items we save for ‘someday when,’ and learning how to use them. I will be offering tips and tricks for how to break the cycle of saving and start using.

One of the presents I received from a dear friend for my birthday was a beautiful, lovely-smelling, kitchen cleaning spray. It is nicer than anything I would buy for myself (remember the Turkish Towel? I see a theme happening) and I loved it. I knew I wouldn’t hold myself back from using it and put it under my sink with all my other cleaning supplies. Well, 6 months after my birthday I was pulling something out of my cleaning storage and realized I had barely used this cleaning spray. It had turned into a show pony without my trying! 

In reflecting on why I hadn’t used this spray I realized the thing holding me back was not an excuse, but a lack of awareness. Since I was not in the habit of using a spray to wipe down my counters, and the spray was out of sight, I never used it. This brings me to Method #1 Keep it in Plain Sight.

I moved my special spray onto the counter and made the intention to use it every time I wiped down the counters. Well, wouldn’t you know it, this changed everything! I now use my spray all the time and love it! It wasn’t a lack of wanting to use it, but a lack of thinking to use it. Putting this item in plain site helped me to think of it and enjoy it. 

I have a caveat with this method. It may be tempting to put ALL the things out. However, I recommend working on one show pony at a time. Once you are successful in establishing a new habit of using something, you can move another item out into view. If you pull out too many items to choose from, your brain will get overwhelmed and you’ll go back to what you always use. Trust me, I know from experience!

What special items do you want to use, but forget you have?

Do you have fancy cleaning supplies, bath supplies or makeup, hiding out of sight?

What will you put out in plain sight? I’d love to know how it works for you!

Getting Curious: How to turn your show pony into a workhorse

Belongings, intentional living, show pony summer series

This is the beginning of my Show Pony Summer Series! Over the summer I will be sharing all kinds of tips and tricks for how to turn your show ponies into workhorses.

Today we are getting curious, not with Jonathan Van Ness (I wish), but with our show ponies. We will be solving some of the mysteries around why we can’t seem to bring ourselves to use these items. At this point you have walked around your home with the 3 horsemen of your closet in mind: the workhorse, the show pony, and the out to pasture. 

Show ponies are the items that are too nice, too expensive, too sentimental, too old, too new, too fancy, too (insert any excuse you have to not use these items). These items often have tags on, are in their original packaging, have dust on them, but you love them dearly.

To begin, picture one of your show ponies, it’s important you pick only one item to get the most out of this exercise. Try to use the same item for all of these questions. I will use the example of an item I struggle to use: my beautiful, white, Turkish towel (pictured above).

THE ORIGIN STORY

What is your item’s origin story? It doesn’t have to be worthy of a superhero, but how did this item come into your life? I’m serious, picture it! When did you and this item first meet?

  • Was it at the sale rack?
  • Was it a gift?
  • Did you save for it?
  • Was it hard earned?
  • Did it used to belong to someone?

My Turkish towel was a beautiful gift from my friend Wendy at my wedding shower. I loved it immediately and my first thought was ‘I’ve always wanted a Turkish towel but never bought one for myself.’ It was beautiful, soft, and exactly what I had always wanted. So why have I never used it? Read on!

WHAT MESSAGE IS IT SENDING YOU?

Our belongings aren’t just items, they send big messages. Messages about: who we are, the status we are striving for, how we want to present ourselves to the world, how much money we make, how little money we make. All of these messages are wrapped up in the item you are struggling to wear. 

My Turkish towel sends the message ‘you are not good enough.’  You see, I had wanted a Turkish towel for a long time, but it seemed too nice. I already had towels, I didn’t need a special one, so I envied my friends with beautiful Turkish towels, but never bought one for myself. When I ended up owning one the message didn’t change. Everytime I went to use it I would hear ‘you are not good enough for this.’

The goal of this question is to unpack the message this item is sending you. Usually, the message can be boiled down to ‘you are not enough.’ Not fancy enough, skinny enough, cool enough, good enough, wise enough, rich enough or worthy to use this item. Read on for how we will combat these messages.

HEAR THE FEAR

When you think about using this item, what is the fear that comes up?

Some fears include:

  • What will people think? The fear of other people’s opinion
  • What if I wreck it? The fear of loss
  • What if I waste it? The fear of missing out (FOMO)
  • What if I don’t like it? The fear of disappointment

The fear I hear when I go to use my Turkish towel is ‘what if I wreck it?’ It’s white, I would be using it at the beach, it will most likely get dirty and the idea of washing it is intimidating. So where does it stay? Safe from sand and sun and fun, in the closet. Knowing the fear is a really helpful way to realize what you are fighting against.

Now comes the part where we start fighting back! You have gotten curious about your item and it’s paying off, you are gathering a sense for why you aren’t using this item. My data is:It was a gift, I think it’s too good for me, I’m afraid of wrecking it.

HONOUR HOW IT CAME INTO YOUR LIFE

Instead of fighting how it came into your life, honour that story.

  • If you bought it on sale, praise yourself for being such a fantastic bargain hunter.
  • If you worked hard and saved your pennies, praise yourself for being so determined, hard working, and focused.
  • If it used to belong to someone, thank that person for passing it on to you, think of them and your memories.

My Turkish towel was a lovely gift from a dear friend. When I intentionally think of this origin story I change the script from ‘this is a gift, I would never give myself permission to buy it for myself, so don’t ruin it.’ To a story of ‘this is a beautiful, thoughtful gift, from a dear friend who wants me to use it and enjoy it.’ See the difference and permission that gives? 

How can you honour your show pony’s origin story?

WRITE YOUR OWN MESSAGE

These messages are subliminal, they’re subtle, and we can quiet the message by keeping the item tucked away. However, that message is not gone, it’s always there waiting for you. To get rid of the message for good you need to write your own message. 

My message: I am good enough for my Turkish towel. No item gets to tell me what I can or cannot use. I am worthy of having and using nice things. 

It may feel silly or uncomfortable, but you know what’s sillier and more uncomfortable? Letting an item silently send you messages for years! Take back the message and take back your items!

FEAR FEARS ACTION

You’ve heard the fear, loud and clear, now we get to do something about it. Figure out what the core fear is and give it the antidote

  • The fear of other people’s opinion – give yourself a mantra and repeat it over and over. 
  • The fear of loss- Remind yourself of all the items you have, all the items you have let go, and that the world is a safe place to use your stuff.
  • The fear of missing out – remind yourself that you are missing out on it 100% of the time you don’t use it.
  • The fear of disappointment – I guarantee the more you use your special items, the more you will enjoy them, and the easier this will get. 

When I go to grab my Turkish towel before heading out the door, my brain loves to remind me of all the terrible stains waiting for me at the beach. However, I remind myself, I can figure out how to wash this, a little dirt never hurts anyone, and it’s better to use it and wreck it, than never use it at all.

What action will you take against your fear?

I started writing this post thinking we could ask our show ponies some fun questions, but somehow I ended up talking about worthiness and fear. The more I think about this topic and the more I use my stuff I remember our stuff isn’t light or easy, but it’s important. Our belongings touch on big, heavy, serious, topics. That can be scary, and it can also be exciting and freeing.

I feel much better and more confident about using my Turkish towel this summer because I have seriously considered why I don’t use it. Now, when I hear the message of ‘you’re not good enough’ or ‘what if you wreck it’ they are familiar. They have lost their scariness. They are simply my brain trying to keep me safe. I reassure myself by thinking I am worthy of using my towel and the world is a safe place to use my stuff.

I would LOVE to hear what show pony you thought of when asking these questions and how this has shifted your thinking.

Look out for more in the show pony summer series!

The 3 horsemen of your closet

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Is your favourite thing to ponder why we never use our stuff? No? Just me?

One of the things I find helpful when reflecting on why I do or don’t use certain items is putting them into categories. So, I came up with the 3 horsemen of the closet: the work horse, the show pony, and out to pasture.

Your work horses are the items you always reach for. Anything from your go to work uniform to your everyday dishes, toiletries, jewelry, and food items. There is nothing special about them, but they do the job. You love them for how they meet your needs.

How to recognize these items: 

  • They are often in the laundry
  • They are often in the dishwasher
  • This is how people would describe your style
  • This is how you spend your time
  • This is what you wear, eat, use, and enjoy 
  • They are used and enjoyed regularly

My workhorses:

  • Blundstone boots
  • Birkenstock sandals
  • Bike panier
  • All of my purses (I only have 3)
  • Fossil watch
  • Yeti mug

You have more excuses for why you don’t use them than you do memories of using them. 

These are often items we are saving for ‘someday when’. Either a special occasion (Christmas dinner), a big milestone (10 year anniversary), an external accomplishment (making partner) or a personal accomplishment (losing 50 pounds). No matter what you’re waiting for, these items always seem to stay in the cupboard, on the shelf, in the garage and are not used.

How to recognize these items:

  • They have dust on them
  • They have tags on
  • They are in their original packaging
  • These are items we often love deeply but don’t give ourselves permission to use
  • You try it on, but never leave the house in it

My show ponies:

  • Aritiza blazer
  • Embroidered dress
  • Yoga mat
  • Turkish towel
  • Red flats
  • Beaded necklace

I find the Out to Pasture items fall into 2 categories:

  1. They used to be your go to, but they’ve been overworked. They are tattered, faded, and showing their age. 
  2. They were never used. Either you bought them for your aspirational self or they were a mistake from the beginning. Either way, cut your losses and realize you do not use them, do not wish to use them, and have no plans to use them.

The Out to Pasture items are cluttering up your space, distracting from your workhorses and show ponies and overwhelming your decision making.

How to recognize these items:

  • They are at the back of your closet, bottom of your drawer, and the back of your cupboard
  • They have holes, stains, need to be repaired or past the expiry date
  • These items are never used and need to find a new home. 

My out to pasture

  • Water colours – I realized this is not my hobby of choice
  • Extra panier – I realized I prefer my workhorse panier than having the choice of two
  • Old running shoes – it was cluttering up my space and forcing me to choose everytime I went to put them on
  • Extra sunglasses – I have a quality pair of polarized sunglasses that has become my work horse only since I gave myself permission to let go of the extras.

The first step in beginning to use and enjoy your things is to recognize the categories. As you go about your day, interacting with your belongings, ask yourself ‘which category is this? Workhorse, show pony or out to pasture?

Soon I will cover the different strategies for each category, but first, happy hunting!

The Idea: what it is and what it is not

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On average we use 20% of our belongings 80% of the time. That is unbelievable to me and I am fascinated with how we can start using more of our items. I believe this is possible when we begin to see ourselves as worthy to have and use our belongings. This idea can have lots of different interpretations, here, I outline what this idea is, what it is not.

What this idea IS:

A Mindset Shift
This idea begins with your thinking, you must first see yourself as someone worthy of having nice things and using nice things. Instead of saving items for another day when you do something to feel worthy enough to use them, you use these items now.

Identifying what you are saving
This idea starts with items and belongings that are gathering dust in our closets, but it goes much further than that. What are the belongings, items, goals, and ideas that you are saving for ‘someday when?’ It may start with lighting a candle, or cutting the tags off a shirt, but soon it could lead to running a marathon or applying for a new job. Once you start seeing yourself as worthy, and knowing that ‘someday when’ isn’t coming, you start to realize the bigger things you’ve been saving.

A sustainable lifestyle
As you use everything available to you it becomes a more sustainable way to shop, dress and live. You begin to use what you have and are not constantly looking for and buying more.

A practice in abundance
Scarcity is the mindset that makes us feel unworthy, less than, and constantly looking for the item that will make us feel content. This idea shows you that there is no item that can give you abundance and contentment, it comes from the action of using your things and enjoying your life.

What this idea is NOT

Minimalism
There is no lifestyle requirement or a specific number of belongings to follow this idea. You can have 3 special items, or 3 thousand, what’s important is that you give yourself permission to use your belongings (however many there may be).

Expensive
This idea requires no purchases or orders. You are shopping your closet, rediscovering items you love and giving yourself permission to use your belongings. Put your credit cards and online shopping accounts aside. You do not need more belongings to confuse you, you need to figure out why you’re not wearing what you already own.

Wasteful
Some people argue that it’s wasteful to ruin a nice dress during everyday errands. I agree to a point, yes, sometimes we do need to make sure that our heels and dresses are in good condition when we go to a Christmas party, wedding, or birthday. However, this mentality has gotten out of hand. Why save 10 pretty dresses for occasions that happen 3 times a year? Why not wear those special items for an ordinary occasion and get that feeling every day of the year?

Judgement or a guilt trip
Sometimes when we are confronted with all the items and belongings we have been wasting for so long we can feel guilty or judged. That is not the point. Society, family, context and life have been telling you it’s better to save your best, and to keep buying things to make you feel better. These lessons have taught us to treat our houses as shrines for all our best items, but never actually use them. You were simply following the rules of life, until now. Please do not judge yourself, do not feel guilty, you are simply beginning from here, where you are. The only thing you can do is begin to question why you have been saving it and how you can make small changes to use your things.

To impress other people
You are not wearing your clothes or popping the champagne to impress other people or win a popularity contest. You are embracing all that you have been given because something happens when we stand in our power and say yes. This is not about other people, this is about awakening something inside of you that’s been hidden at the back of your closet. 

Not for everyone
I will not sit here and convince you. There is something about this idea that resonates with people, I’ve seen it over and over again. I know deep down that people need to be given permission to love and use their belongings and I am here to give you that permission. If you do not want permission, then keep going, revel in saving your things and keeping them pristine. If however, you are starting to think there is more to life than full closets and nothing to wear, then keep reading. I love this idea and want to shout it from the rooftops! You are worthy of having and using your things!

Is there anything I missed? What does this idea mean to you?!

Someday when…

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I am finally releasing my blog to the world. A couple of years ago I created this site, but never publically said “here it is.” I’m nervous, excited, and ready to see where it takes me. This idea of using our best has settled into the deepest recesses of my brain and won’t let me forget it. I see it everywhere, all the time. I saw it when I read and watched Marie Kondo. She helped me find the items with the biggest sparks and the most joy, so why couldn’t I bring myself to use them?

I saw it when with laughter and honesty Brene Brown taught me to lean into vulnerability, and that it’s OK to do things that cause us emotional exposure. So why did it feel so vulnerable to walk out of my house in my best dress? 

I saw it daily in my own closet when I would go to reach for my nicest top, yet never wore it out of the house, because tomorrow, or later, was a better time.

The biggest area I kept seeing my fear was in putting off releasing this blog. Later, next month, when I’m ready and it’s perfect. Well, after a couple of years I started to realize later wasn’t coming. So, here it is. Not perfect, but showing up. 

I believe that’s a big part of it, showing up in your best dress when you’re unsure. 

Lighting the candle when you’re not sure the experience will match your expectations. 

Using the good china even though there’s a risk you’ll chip it. 

I don’t have this figured out. I still have some dresses I struggle to wear, and some shirts I would hate to spill on. What I do know is I’m getting better. I use all my fancy glasses, I light all my candles, and I drink all the good alcohol. I’m learning and growing and doing this, risk and all, and I hope you’ll join me. 

This is where you’ll find me. Figuring out why we hold ourselves back from using our stuff and offering tools, methods, and mantras for how to change that.

I hope you’ll join me as we…

🕯️ Light the candles

🍽️ Use the good china

👗 Wear the dress

🥂 Drink the champagne

🎨 Play with the art supplies

I’m done with waiting for someday when, and I hope you are too.

Photo Jen Newman Photography

Lessons from my commute

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More than anything, biking to work serves as a daily reminder of the journey of life. 

In biking it’s all about timing the lights. Coming to a full stop, losing momentum, with the bonus of forgetting to gear down? You earned yourself back sweat and a disgruntled rider. 

Without even trying, biking becomes a competitive game of “can I pass that person?” When I pass someone on my commute I automatically feel like a winner. I never take into account a head start, momentum, a higher starting point on a downhill. No, it’s just my skill. And yet, when that same person comes flying past me and I’m a sitting duck at a newly turned green, I’m fuming. Them? Again? I just passed them? 

Pass someone who is stopped at the bottom of a hill, and you have the full momentum of mother gravity you feel like a grinning bat straight out of hell. Cackling as you speed by. And yet, cycling, like life, has a way of humbling you. Suddenly it’s you hitting the next red, and you’re being passed by a runner (it was uphill and his legs went on for days, while my stubs were barely keeping the chain turning).

In life I think we divide up success as the distance between two lights. We focus on getting ahead of people in the short term, instead of realizing it’s about how we ride the whole course, not simply light to light. If I get ahead of that person first, if I buy a house, land the job, find the husband, then I’m winning. But it’s not about the space between lights, it’s about where you’re going (hold onto your helmets, this is about to get cheesy). 

While you’re busy watching the other person sail past you, you’re too green with envy to notice what set that person up for success. They got a head start, they had the help of gravity, their bike is lighter and faster, they had the luck of timing. None of that I can control, but I can control my ride. I can change my mindset from lights to long term. Instead of wanting to get everything first, what about securing the foundation to a happy life? 

And isn’t that life? Sure their instagram is lit, and they suffer for nothing, but I’m working focusing on enjoying the ride and where I’m headed, not beating my fellow commuters. Aren’t we all just trying to get where we’re going?

Digital Minimalism

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I started to notice that I went nowhere without my phone. The toilet, the bus, at my desk, in bed. There was nowhere my phone wasn’t allowed. 

“Do you check your smartphone before you pee in the morning or while you’re peeing in the morning because those are the only two choices,” 

Roger McNamee- Facebook early investor

That quote really struck me from the movie, The Social Dilemma. Why had this become normal? My phone had become my constant companion, and I needed a DTR (define the relationship). My phone felt like an enemy instead of a comrade and I needed a change. 

I started with some rules to help encourage me to put my phone back in its place: 

  • My phone is not my alarm clock. I use an old phone with no wifi and no SIM saving me from distractions as I set my alarm or as a transition from sleep to wake.
  • I leave my phone out of sight as much as possible- in my work bag, in another room, plugged in
  • I have no social media apps on my phone and i signed out of FB and instagram on my phone’s web browser making it harder for me to casually scroll
  • I installed a tracking app that reminds me of how much time I am spending on my phone daily.
  • Permission to think my thoughts: II leaned into a lack of stimulus. When I was waiting for the bus, I didn’t reach for my phone, I thought my thoughts. 
  • I stopped going on my computer/phone for entertainment. This meant no blogs, no youtube videos, no social media. I was allowed to use it as a tool- directions, store hours, bus schedules, but no entertainment

This week I intentionally sat down to catch up on my favourite blog. Instead of going through the home page and opening a bazillion tabs, I opened one article at a time, and when I was finished reading, I closed it. I had to be mindful of this approach and it was a lot slower. However, I didn’t feel like I was consuming and gorging on my favourite material. Instead of gobbling it up, I savoured it. 

I am still figuring out how not to be in constant communication. Whatsapp, messenger, texts, email, they take up a lot of time and attention. I want to be connected but not glued to my phone. The next goal is figuring out how to manage my communication without always being on my phone. 

What do you do to manage your phone time? Do you have any tips?