reality is weirder than you think

Tag: motivation (page 1 of 3)

To get what you want, you have to do the opposite

It is completely counterintuitive, yes.

Whether it’s because life is actually a series of paradoxes, or if it’s because we live in upside-down world, it is true that in order to get something that you truly want, you have to do the exact opposite for a period of time.

That probably doesn’t make any sense, so here are some examples.

Digestive problems: to eventually be able to eat whatever I wanted, for now, I have to eat only what is approved.

Dating/marriage: if I eventually want to have a relationship with a man in which I have no inhibitions, for now, I have to create strict boundaries.

Health: if I eventually want good health to the point where I don’t have to think about it, for now, I have to think about it all the time.

Time/work: if I eventually want to have the freedom to do whatever I want with my days, for now, I have to be extremely strict with my time.

Let me break it down even more. Take the time/work example, which I’ve been contemplating a lot recently.

In the future, I will work for myself. I will have a business that runs primarily online that does not depend on a 1:1 time expenditure on my part. Yes, that means that I will have things to tend to for my business each day, but it also means that I can choose when, where, and in what capacity I do those things. Because I will build a business that revolves around things that I already like and want to do, the phrase “freedom to do whatever I want” automatically includes doing the work.

Obviously “whatever I want” is subject to God’s law, and natural law, and US law, but it’s not subject to an employer’s rules and my boss’s expectations and the consequences of having to survive in a highly political environment.

Fun fact: my major criteria for an ideal working environment are: 1. I can wear shorts, 2. an entire wall of speakers so I can blast music as loud as I like, and 3. lots of light.

None of those things could exist at my current workplace. Maybe the light, but I have about 0% control over the location of my office.

However, none of this will happen by itself.

I cannot simply quit my day job now and expect to be able to support myself off the internet with no prior preparation. I could probably support myself off the internet if necessary, but certainly not in the “what I want to do” category.

To get to that point, where I work for myself, I need to build my skills and knowledge on the side, during my non-employed time. This means, that if I also want to eat and tend to my relationships and relax, I need to be disciplined about how I spend my time.

There are a finite number of useable hours in a day, and if I want to accomplish something more than the 9-5 grind, I have to use them to my advantage.

I could do what I want to do now, and pretend that I have the ability to do whatever I want whenever I want. That might make me happy for a time, but then my employer would start getting irritated at me leaving the office to work out every day at 11:30 am, or my taking naps every afternoon.

After a while, I’d probably be unemployed.

Then, if I kept doing whatever my immediate desires told me to do, I wouldn’t have a job and I wouldn’t be building any online business infrastructure. I’d be watching YouTube videos and eating pork rinds.

To get where I truly want to go, I have to do the opposite of my impulsive desires, of my ingrained habits, of the actions that I’ve done so far in the past to get myself to this point.

For the future, I cultivate in myself actions and habits that align with my long-term goals.

I believe that is what they call “discipline.”

It is basically wanting what is truly good for us instead of what is expediently and easily fun.

Winning that battle is just as much mental readjustments as it is physical habits.

(Trust me on this one: it took me YEARS to learn in the food arena. As of a few years ago the pastry case in Starbucks no longer registers in my brain as food. That’s a huge shift.)

This is all totally possible, too. I’ve done it before, in the arena of health. Did I ever think I would realign my life to live the most anti-bacterial lifestyle that I could? No, of course not! But I did, and by doing the opposite of what I wanted to do, I no longer have to think about it as much. Partly, this is because I have some new habits that are ingrained in me, and partly because the problem isn’t nearly as big. And hopefully it’ll be even less big after the surgery next month.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is, the road to whatever you truly want is probably its exact opposite.

Don’t fight it, just start walking the path.

Virginia Woolf ran a publishing house and it’s inspiring AF

When Virginia Woolf was around my age, she convinced her husband to buy a dog, a house, and a printing press. (I have to find a husband before I can convince him of such things, but nobody said we had to do this in the same order.) What started out as a hobby, and a way to dodge harsh criticism from mainstream publishers but still put out books, ended up as a legit publishing house that ran for 30 years and published people like TS Eliot and Sigmund Freud. (And of course Virginia herself.)

Leonard Woolf said that one of the reasons for the success of the Hogarth Press was that they had no overheads. The printing was done in their home, they didn’t pay themselves for their time and any profit they made was always reinvested.

Sounds a lot like running a blog, actually.

I saw some of their early products today. They’re not fancy. The later books were, with dust jackets and cleanly-designed covers. But the early ones? They were simply bound with stitches, with covers printed on colored stock or fabric. Some were really tiny, pocket-book sized (pamphlets, really) while others were normal-book sized.

As their confidence grew, the Woolfs started to sell their books by subscription. They compiled two lists of subscribers, group A, those who would buy all the Hogarth Press publications, and group B, who could be notified of new publications and would then select the titles they wanted.

A subscription model you say? Like, I don’t know, an email list? Gee. I don’t have an email list yet, but perhaps it’s time to start.

Certainly I don’t agree with most of the politics of Virginia and Leonard–and I definitely will not pattern my death after her–but I am absolutely delighted to learn about their press and how they grew it from a tiny little baby into something that had legs and made money and published actual legit works.

Lessons we learn

  1. You absolutely can be an author and publisher at the same time
  2. It’s okay to start small selling to your friends
  3. Don’t be afraid to scale up when the time comes
  4. Always keep track of why you started doing it in the first place

Some days you aim for 1% better but barely break even

Today wasn’t a bad day. It was fairly pleasant, all in all.

I checked out a new church, talked with my parents in our weekly facetime chat, and made strides at putting my apartment in order. (Having actual furniture is weird, yo.) I spent some time reading and working on a cross-stitch for my entryway.

Some things improved a lot: my guest room looks pretty great, despite the overturned moving boxes masquerading as side tables and lack of pillows. The bed is made nicely, there’s art on the walls, a semi-cohesive decorating scheme, and there’s an overall “vibe” to the room that none of the other rooms in this place have yet.

On the other hand, my guest room actually looks better than my real bedroom, which is basically my bed and a bunch of clothes. (And also my duck lamp, but that’s beside the point.)

This afternoon, I had a bunch of ideas for blog posts, all that will take development. So I wrote out various rough drafts but never finished any of them.

As I’m writing this post instead, I can’t help but smell the remains of the charred stew that I attempted to cook for my lunch tomorrow. It’s incinerated; the meat is like charcoal.

I can look up and see the television antenna I bought in an attempt to watch NBC’s edited version of the Olympics opening ceremony on Friday. It’s hooked up, but won’t receive any channels.

There are some great lamps that my parents gifted me, old pottery lamps from the 80s that are pretty. I bought shades for them, and had to buy lamp harps twice–the first were one inch too short, the second one inch too tall.

Incremental progress can work backward, too.

This coming week, I’m making a resolution to stop complaining as much and to go on the offense at work.

It’s usually better to be positive about life. But sometimes, you gotta keep it real, fam. Not everything goes right, all of the time, even when we try.

Tomorrow is a new day.

(One where I won’t burn the stew.)

Coping with the Absurdity Bubble

Today I realized that I was being unreasonable.

No matter what I may think, I can’t change the way that other people behave. Nor can I change their work output. I’m not the boss.

So instead of wailing and gnashing my teeth over the Absurdity Bubble that I’ve found myself in, I need to get real and deal with it head on.

No more headdesking over things that I think should be more rational.

No more internal crying over incoherent design that I think should be clearer.

That’s getting caught in the SHOULD, which is the absolute worst place to get caught.

SHOULD is automatically a losing proposition.

I need to stop thinking about myself, and my standards, and my own ego.

I need to instead start thinking about the people who actually have to use the product.

They are the ones at the mercy of the absurdity bubble.

I’m just a messenger. A facilitator. A translator.

It’s becoming increasingly clear to me that I won’t be able to impact the content of what I’m working on, but maybe I can tweak the design enough to help it become an actionable, useable thing.

My job is to make the unreasonable, reasonable. Or at least palatable.

A spoonful of sugar and all that.

So what did Mary Poppins do that was so effective?

  • Never explained herself.
  • Always had a few tricks up her sleeve.
  • Constantly amazed everyone around her.
  • Self-confident to the point of irrationality.
  • Occasional disappearances.
  • Bent reality to her will.
  • Always had fun.
  • Found friends in strange places.

Clearly, there are few greater role models than Mary Poppins. Disney aside, this is a lady I want to emulate.

Someday I’ll find a real role model. In the meantime, there’s fictional characters.



Today is a day when I tend to self-reflect, so I’m diving back into my Future Authoring account.

I’m sad that there isn’t a date on it, because I would have LOVED to have known when I wrote this, but I think it was sometime in the summer of 2017. About six months ago, actually.

In six months, I want to be out of [my old job]. No more. This place is a shithole. In two years, I want to be making enough online that I could be considering cutting the cord and supporting myself only on my earnings. In five years, i want to have a comfortable routine writing and editing and publishing books

This makes me laugh (both in the “it’s funny” way and the “tell for cognitive dissonance” way), and I’m so very glad that I opened this back up at this moment in time.

First, the shithole comment. I love synchronicity like that. Sometimes I wonder if I wait too long to do a thing, but then when I do do the thing, it will reference something that I just learned about which would have been completely lost on me had I done the thing earlier. I can never figure out if it’s confirmation bias or if it’s evidence that I have a guardian angel or something. The prominence of the word shithole in my self-assessment and in the media today indicates, to me, that I’m still somehow on the right track.

Second, my five-year vision/goal/whatever scares the spit out of me. Which is funny, considering that the six-month goal is already accomplished and I didn’t even realize I was doing it. Looking back on what I wrote, it all rings true, but I don’t remember writing it. I never once thought about my FutureAuthoring profile as I interviewed for the job and moved to a completely different state. Not once.

Yet I accomplished my goal. And it was easier–once the time was right–than I thought it would be.

It astonishes me how much we can accomplish when we work toward something, even if that something is completely unconscious. When I quit my autoimmune medications, I never consciously made a decision to quit. I just started acting as if I had quit, with the option to reschedule my next infusion if we got to that point.

(Spoiler: we never got to that point.)

You have to do the work, there’s no getting around that, but if you do the work eventually you will look up and you’ll be out of the swamp into the mountains.

This is way too much fun

Cross stitch + data visualizations. They go together like steak and a ripping hot cast-iron pan.

Counted cross stitch requires intense scrutiny of detail, much like attending to a dataset*. You might as well combine the two!

After my Bitcoin debut–which I need to frame–I decided to tackle something a little more personal.

This one is a map of my income over the past several years vs doses of a super-high-powered drug that I thought I’d be dependent on forever.

I thought I would per permanently scraping-dry poor, tethered to corporate-level health insurance, at the mercy of the modern medical system.

Thank GOD that by small steps I managed to escape most of it.

I have corporate-level health insurance by nature of working with a huge employer, but I’m not dependent on it anymore. If I lost my job tomorrow…whatever.

Anyway, I wanted to make a motivational chart to remind myself that I have done not one but TWO things I previously thought were impossible.

I did it before. I can do it again.

This one is a work in progress, as I got a little overexcited with the x-axis and need to redo the end of it.

I’d start another, but I need to make a supply run for more aida cloth.

*I say this like I’m some sort of data expert. I’m not. But I’d like to learn more about statistics.

Unexpected gains

You know how awesome it feels to find a$20 bill randomly in the pocket of a jacket?

Or the rush of endorphins in your head when you remember, again, that Donald J Trump is in fact the President of the United States of America?

Earlier today I had one of those moments: my income is now more than double what I made five years ago.

Funny what is factually true but you don’t really appreciate until you’re doing a mental rundown of your budget.

One paycheck now was my entire month’s budget then.

Back then, it was hard to fathom the possibility of making more money.

But what gets me is what the money has to say about my ambitions and abilities and how quickly I’ve risen in an industry that does not allow for bonuses or commissions.

Looking back, I’ve worked hard and made the best of my circumstances and I’m ridiculously more ambitious than I ever thought.

It’s nice to not have to worry about money anymore.

It’s even nicer to think about how far I’ve come. I can look back, and see a track record of (mostly) success.

I don’t have to bluff or pretend or fake it until I make it.

I’ve by no means made it, but now I’m extra motivated to absolutely kill it.


What has boosted your confidence lately?

Last New Year’s reflexion post of 2018 (for now)

I go a little overboard at New Year’s, reflecting and planning and all that. Because so many changes happened in my life (and the world) this year, I think my need to reflect went into overdrive.

This year I started extra early, back in November.

Here’s a note from my bullet journal:

On a micro scale, 2017 was…not great.

On a macro scale, it has been AMAZING. Trump, carnivory, new job, moving, etc.

2018: year of micro?

In my years of working, I’ve come to realize that the most useful vantage points are either on the ground, the front-lines staff who works directly with the data or the people or digging in the dirt–where you have an opportunity to make decisions on a personal and behavior level and impact the world in that way– or high up, the decision-bearing leadership who has responsibility and a clear view of the landscape–where you have the opportunity to craft a coherent strategy.

In other words, strategy and tactics.

But in a bureaucracy, there are a lot of other layers in between. Those tend to get muddy and lost and don’t add much value. The top and the bottom are where things get done. (Ideally. I realize politics is like fifty shades of grey.)

Looking at my micro/macro observations through this lens, it’s clear that 2017 positioned me in a different place strategically. I’m in a different town with a different job and a different way of eating with better health. That’s great.

What I didn’t do in 2017 was a lot of the projects that I had planned. Writing a novel. Working on art. Learning something new and useful. Making new friends. Improving my style. Focusing on fitness.

My macro changed, but my micro didn’t.

However, now that my macro is better, I feel like I can focus more on the micro.

Not the grand, sweeping decisions, but the small moments of my life, the things I do to propel myself through my day.

I’m trying to focus on the incredible gift it is to have the consciousness to be able to plan strategically, but the blessing to be only in one moment of time at once. Focus my consciousness on the task at hand.

(She writes as she pulls up a YouTube video in the background. SAD!) (I put it away.)

Habits, actions, and the doing of it. That’s what 2018 is going to be about–and has been so far.

I’ll check back at the end of March–my first self-imposed deadline.



The sweet feeling of being tired

You know that tired feeling you get after binge-watching a show all day?

It feels hollow–unearned–because at the back of your mind you know you didn’t do anything to deserve it.

On days like this, I almost feel disgusted with myself. I’m tired, because I want to sleep, because I want a reset.

Contrast that with the tired feeling born of a long day of work.

The right kind of tired.

Your body is tired. Your brain is tired. Sleep pulls at you–but in a satisfying, tantalizing way.

Nothing like a good night’s sleep after a job well done.

Like “hunger is the best sauce,” a productive day makes any bed more comfy.

Public goals

They say that the best way to build credibility is to make predictions in public, stand by them, and wait for them to come true.

Of course, that’s contingent upon one’s ability to ~~predict the future.

The next best way is to say you’re going to do something, and then do it.

It’s like predicting the future, but you get near-complete control over that future.

Instead of, say, trying to predict the stock market.

So it would make sense that I could list a bunch of New Year’s resolutions here, and then track my progress as I achieve them.

Truth be told, I am too chickenshit to throw my specific goals out for public consumption–or accountability.


Vaguely, my goals involve:

  • Using writing to develop a secondary source of income
  • Taking steps to further bolster my health and beauty

I’m sure I’ll chronicle some of my endeavors here.

Last year ended up being “year of macro,” in which I made some major changes in my life.

This year is “year of micro,” and I’m intending to focus a lot more on my individual actions. How the little actions accumulate over time.

That is the non-stressful way to get to goals. Don’t focus a lot on the decision, but focus more on the doing of it.

And, the volume of “doings” is convenient in letting one document extensively along the way.

Which feeds in to the credibility cycle.


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