Shifts // June 2019

1. Write about what you love as much as what you hate. Write about the good things you have as much as your pain. Your perspective is the way you habitually see the world. It is adjustable with practice and perseverance. Practice gratitude more often because balance is how you get closer to the reality of things. It helps to take stock of what is good and to remember that things are never as bad as they seem right now.

2. Start cooking at home again. It isn’t easy, I know. Working long hours and fighting back the exhaustion and the disappointment of another bad day make it hard to even want to cook. It’s easier to “pick up something”. It’s easier to snack or rely on foods from the freezer to the microwave, but it’s awful for you both physically and emotionally. Instead, change the way you think about cooking. Make it your “me time” or your “us time”. Open a bottle of wine, play some music, talk to one another and then share your delicious and good for you creation with each other.

3. Leave your shelter more often. Anxiety and chronic fatigue make it hard but getting out into the world really is the best thing for you. Stop wallowing. No more weekends spent entirely indoors. Get out of bed, fix yourself up, and go meet the sun. Go where the people are, where nature is. Find places where you can be a part of the world and where your problems look a lot smaller from.

4. It’s okay not to know. There is always something that everyone of us does not know and so much of that unknown is found not in lofty and elite places but all around us in the everyday and ordinary. Not knowing is not just human, normal, and understandable, it is also admirable. Not knowing is part of the work, the journey and the joy. Share what you don’t know as much as what you do. It’s infinitely more relatable.

5. Return to your bliss station. You cannot create from the couch, while you watch this movie, or this show, or even the news. Stop lying to yourself. You do not even enjoy trying to write or read or learn that way and you always regret the decision. You know where you would work best, away from the what distracts you, what exhausts you, what stunts your creativity and ability to think. Go there, work there, make it a place where happiness, inspiration, and your spark can be found time and time again.

6. What you want is not always the path to what you need. Humans notoriously want what is bad for them and we justify it by calling it what we need. We start from the wrong end trying to get the wrong things but when we take the time to dig beneath those excuses, those rationalizations, and those lies we find the core of need. Start there instead and work your way back out to a better, healthier, more efficient and effective solution.  

7. Learn to love all the seasons. Try to love all the ways they change you and make you feel too. Spring isn’t the only season of growth and summer isn’t the only season in which we can find joy. There are versions of you and ways of living that can only be accessed in the winter in fall and the days and seasons we’ve yet to name that exist in a space between. Give all these seasons attention and cultivate a habit of studying all the ways you exist in them.


Post inspired by Nicholas Bate

Photo by Lenart Lipovšek on Unsplash

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Shifts for May 2019

1. Appreciate the work your heart does for you. It isn’t broken, or weak, or a burden. It has loved you from the start and it works just as it should, every day. It loves because love is what you need and sometimes the hurt just means it’s doing its best. Don’t smother it, harden it, or wish it away. Give it space to do its job and take care of it in return.

2. Get some distance from yourself. It’s important not to make yourself the center of the universe, for good or bad. You are not the most anything or the worst anything either. Your perspective, feelings, and priorities are not the only ones and they are not the sole right ones. Nothing revolves or relies solely on you either, and this is a good thing.

3. Take notice of who you become when you are around other people, certain people, and no people at all. At first, you may feel ashamed watching yourself act in such degrading and humiliating ways as you imitate and perform to please but do not be overcome. Learn from that weaker version of yourself and build a stronger sense of self and character.

4. Having mixed feelings about the people you love is okay. From parents to friends to role models everyone we love makes mistakes, lets us down, and sometimes they even hurt us, a lot. The internet would have you believe boundaries are simple and that only the people who meet our expectations and needs perfectly should be allowed in our lives, but life and love are messy and there is never one simple way to react or proceed. We can feel many often opposing emotions at once and people who make mistakes can still make us happy.

5. Make promises to yourself and commit to not breaking them. When we put the needs of others (and our need to please) before our personal passions, goals, and needs we are the ones who suffer. The commitments you have to yourself and your one and only future are important, the most important and must be treated as sacred. A promise will keep your priorities in focus and the covenant will keep you accountable.

6. Stop apologizing so much. Stop explaining yourself all the time. Stop giving away your self-worth to everyone you meet for every trivial transgression. Your boundaries are valid. Your mistakes are human and normal. You don’t owe anyone everything all the time. Learn to discern when you are truly in the wrong and when your explanation and excuses are unwanted and unwarranted.

7. Remember to “thank those who make your day easier”. Too often we view others such as service industry workers, our coworkers, and even our friends, family, and spouses as people who “owe us” their time, attention, care, and assistance. As a result, when they cannot, or will not, deliver we lash out. Remember that no one owes you anything, and the people who give you their time, attention, care, and assistance deserve a sincere display of your gratitude and patience at the very least.


Post inspired by Nicholas Bate

Photo by Anton Darius on Unsplash

Shifts for April

1. Focus on the reality of the process and not the end result in your dreams. Too often we circumvent discomfort, doubt, and fear by playing perfect scenarios over and over in our minds. We enjoy a sense of accomplishment without having to do the dirty work. Dream, and then put the dream away leaving nothing but space for the real work.

2. It is true that you should not waste time reading books you don’t like, but before you give up, you should consider first whether what you are reading is simply challenging. Reading, like anything, shouldn’t just be about what is easy. Sometimes what you don’t like is that it’s hard and sometimes you will find that greater joy can be found by sticking with what challenges you rather than giving up because it’s “not for you”.

3. Begin before you are ready. The truth is the first attempt will be bad, no matter whether you start now or a year from now. No matter how much you plan or research. No matter how you rework or rewrite. No matter what classes you take or how many “how-to” articles you read. The first attempt will suck because no one is ready the first time. Better to fail now than later.

4. Don’t be afraid to write about it more than once. Write about the same thing every single day if you want. Study it from all angles. Practice it until it’s right. Put it in a new order, a new light, a new place, context, and time. Write it for me, for her, for you, for people living a long way ahead, and write it again for people long gone. Write it as a poem, an essay, a letter, a story. Write is as a truth, then write it as a lie. Write it to death.

5. Don’t give a second of your time to feeling guilty for giving up what other people want for you. Your aspirations may only be comprehendible to you but that doesn’t mean they aren’t valid, worthy, or possible. People can be pushy in their bid to control the direction of your life but don’t feel bad for giving up the opportunities and advice they offer if they do not lead to the life you want for you.

6. Know when to rest. It’s good to have so much expectation of yourself and to work so hard building so many good and admirable habits, but not everything can be done every day and it better to fall a little behind and rest, that to fall far behind when you finally collapse.

7. Move your body. Sweat. Get up from your desk and exhaust yourself. Cultivating the mind and living in virtual and abstract spaces is not the only way to improve the self. There is much to be learned in nature too and the mind appreciates physical exertion as much the body. Balance the mental and the physical, both are part of you and both need the other.


Post inspired by Nicholas Bate

Photo by Kat Stokes on Unsplash

Seven Shifts for March

1. It’s all about discipline, for everyone. Sure you have had your setbacks, you have your shortcomings and your challenges, but when you assume that everything is easier for everyone else across the board you commit a cruelty against yourself. You can do things, you just have to make the necessary modifications and persist through pain and disappointment until the new habit is established.

2. Do better for you. Do better not because you want to be liked, not because the people you love deserve better, but because you deserve better. Love yourself better. Spend more time with yourself. Do the things you love more. Encourage yourself. Go the extra mile and show yourself a grand gesture. Get help, get well, imagine new possibilities and chase impossible dreams, for you.

3. Take what is sucking you in and delete it. If it’s wasting your time, if it’s keeping you from doing the important work, if you regret it at the end of the day, get rid of it! Life is too short for you to waste your time racking up advertising dollars for websites and apps you aren’t getting anything substantial from. Delete it and replace it with something that makes you feel good.

4. Carbs are not the enemy and healthy eating is not so simple. What works in the short-term is not always good or sustainable for the long-term and diets are never one size fits all. Start simply with more fresh ingredients, more fruits, and vegetables. Move more and dedicate real-time to pushing your body and getting your heart rate up. It’s that easy and that hard.

5. If you can’t say something nice, at least don’t say something mean. Your honest take isn’t always what people want and not every criticism of you, your work, and your likes need to be defended against. Save your breath and move on.

6. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but the fact is you may be a racist, or a misogynist, or a homophobe, or a transphobe, or a xenophobe, and more and worse and in any combination thereof. It’s nothing to get offended over. You weren’t born this way and you aren’t even necessarily a bad person because of it. You’re just part of an oppressive system that groomed you to think the way you do. It’s nothing to get defensive about. It’s common, normal, and perfectly changeable.

7. Doing better starts with allowing yourself to feel, acknowledge, and accept that you are utterly incompetent. You lack the knowledge and the skill to do something, many things in fact, and that is okay because, from incompetence, there is nowhere to go but up. From ineptitude comes capability and the unskilled have all the chance to become experts, but first, you have to know what you don’t know and begin from there.


Post inspired by Nicholas Bate

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Seven Shifts for February

  1. Take yourself seriously. Your dreams are not silly and although you are only starting out, and you have no idea what you are doing or where you are going, nothing about your journey is trivial. What you do is of the utmost importance, you have to be the one to acknowledge it as such even when no one else will.
  2. Don’t be afraid to ruin what is perfect. Mar that journal with your ugly words. Destroy that sketchbook with as many imperfect drawings as you can. Spoil that perfect dream by bringing it into this messy reality. Destruction is a facet of creativity after all.
  3. Chip away at it. Think past one day’s work to a week’s worth, a month’s worth, a year’s worth of daily work. Do not move too fast or burn out by trying to pack more than you can into 24 hours and likewise do not forget that there are only so many days you are given to work in.
  4. Stop taking the convenient viewpoint, stop spreading the easy explanation. Don’t accept oversimplification, isolated sound-bites, headlines, and quotes. Champion context, dig into the nuance, give the story, the idea, the concept the time.
  5. Make for yourself some small happiness, something no one can take from you. Make for yourself a small place of peace and joy in the world and within yourself to run to, to ground you, to heal you whenever you need.
  6. Don’t believe everything you think. Your thoughts don’t always come from within you and it’s not always clear why you think the way that you do. You carry biases, prejudices, and beliefs that are not your own and do not accord with whom you wish to be. Examine them. Question them.
  7. If you care about your thoughts, keep them. Don’t keep them on an app, or a timeline. Don’t keep put them where they don’t belong to you. Keep them in notebooks, carry them with you, display them on bookshelves, and pass them on to the next generation.

Post inspired by Nicholas Bate

Photo by STIL on Unsplash

040 // An Early Valentine’s Day Celebration

I woke up with a lot of anxiety. There was so much to do, so little time to do it in, and what little time there slipped away from us and the next thing I knew we were running late, or so it felt. I was tense, I was frustrated, I was angry, and suddenly, everything turned out just fine.

We made it to our early Valentine’s Day brunch even earlier than we’d planned. We opted to drink an entire bottle of champagne’s worth of mimosas between us which was both a very good idea and a very bad one. After brunch was over—and still with plenty of time to spare—we walked over to the Opera House for a very fun Colorado Ballet performance of The Wizard of Oz

Afterward, we headed home to spend the rest of the day doing nothing but lounging on the couch and watching stupid movies together until we can’t keep our eyes open anymore. We can’t hold out as long as we used to. We’re getting older now and busy days and late nights have become mutually exclusive.

So, we’re calling it a night and heading off to bed early feeling very much in love.


These entries are inspired by the journal posts of Thord D. Hedengren

039 // Writing Has to Be Work

I may not always like the things I have to do. I may be tired and grouchy a lot of the time, but I pride myself on always doing my best work regardless of where I am emotionally.

I do this for my day job easily. When the work is hard or frustrating or unfulfilling it doesn’t I put a smile on and do everything I can to exceed all expectations, even my own. It’s my superpower, one of many but I need to learn how to take that same attitude and apply it to writing.

I need to be able to do it when it’s difficult, or frustrating, or unfulfilling too. I want to sit down, exhausted and out of ideas, put on a smile and exceed all expectations, especially my own. I think writing has to become a job for me, even if it is only so in my imagination and not on paper.


These entries are inspired by the journal posts of Thord D. Hedengren

Seven December Shifts

  1. If you can’t be wise, be observing. It’s easy to think you always know what’s going on and what should be done, it’s harder to consider that you may be missing something. You can’t become wise if you aren’t willing to—at least occasionally — admit your stupidity, shut your mouth, take a step back, and learn something.
  2. If you don’t want to do it, but you must, try doing it with spirit! Half the battle is attitude and you’re more likely to win with a simple shift in perspective and greater enthusiasm. Fake it if you have to. You’ll still feel better.
  3. Take breaks even when you don’t think you need them. All humans have their limits, some of us more than others, and rather than push yourself to said limit and risk going too far take a break and rest a little. Later you will wish you had.
  4. Be more protective of your focus. Just because people around you want to talk doesn’t mean you have to make yourself available to them. Be vocal and be clear.
  5. Move your body. Use the space you have and begin slowly at the beginning. Be mindful of those limitations but don’t let your body convince you it cannot do anything. 
  6. You can be an artist, but it takes seeing, practicing, and letting go of perfectionism and forgetting what people think. It’s that easy, and that hard.
  7. Spend more time thinking. Not making lists, not filling out calendars, not looking for inspiration, emailing, or posting. Get a pencil and a pad of paper and fill the pages with ideas, questions, thought fragments, and wild dreams. Write them all down no matter how personal, unachievable, incoherent, or, seemingly, idiotic they may seem. Find time for your own ideas.

Post inspired by Nicholas Bate

Photo by Aleksandar Cvetanovic on Unsplash

Monday Motivation + Goals // Deep Work

My biggest goal this week is to start practicing the art of “deep work“. I learned about the concept through an old Ezra Klein podcast interview with Cal Newport, a computer science professor who writes about the toll technology takes on our ability to be productive.

According to Newport deep work is “the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task”. Half of it is secluding yourself for anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of weeks to work on a project, and the other half is using the chunks of downtime you have throughout the day to brainstorm and problem-solve your project rather than checking social media or catching up on the news.

The first part isn’t as easy as it sounds. It means no social media, no scrolling, no novelty or dopamine hits at all. It may mean no internet access at all! I would like to start with just 1 to 2 hours during the work week and 6 hours over the weekend devoted to writing. For now, I will just be focusing on blog posts but after a few weeks, I will switch to writing for a major project I have been planning. I want to practice focusing for a while and fail a few times before I direct my attention to things I’m much more terrified of.

To be clear, writing blog posts doesn’t mean searching for featured images, quotes, or editing. It means writing and only writing using what notes and ideas I already have. It means keeping my ass in the chair and the cursor moving no matter how frustrated or bored I get.

The second part is also two parts. I need to stop getting sucked into twitter threads or Facebook video holes. If I have a free minute that allows me to use my brain for writing rather than work I have to use it to take notes or research with intention. Just like when I was learning to meditate I have to be mindful of where my attention is being paid and do the work to redirect myself with kindness. To help me avoid this distraction, I’ll schedule my social media time—because I can’t just quit cold turkey—and keeping my phone anywhere but within arm’s reach.

During these “deep work” blocks of time, I will simply work my way down my editorial calendar putting together my notes and writing post after post after post. I’ll spend the last 15 minutes or so of each session writing a short journal type post for this space summarising how I feel and how the day is going.

I will also schedule what Newport calls “shallow work”. Checking my email, working on my editorial calendar, posting to Tumblr, answering comments, tweaking my blog themes, looking up “calls for submission”, reading other blogs, etc.. These tasks are surely important, but they are easy so I often do these things rather than to doing the actual writing. I feel busy, but at the end of the week, I have little to show for all the effort. I’d like this week to be the first in a long time I feel like I have made significant progress.

In addition, I have quite a few other items that have been lingering on my to-do list:

  • Set up an appointment to tour one potential wedding venue.
  • Create one newspaper blackout poem and a collage poem for Instagram.
  • Draft next Friday’s newsletter for Zen and Pi
  • Read every day for 40 minutes at lunchtime and 30 minutes before bed.
  • Finish my Christmas shopping!
  • Get an oil change and new tires.
  • Develop/choose a bodyweight fitness routine

I plan to write these “motivation and goals” posts every Monday with information and links to what is inspiring me to work harder and smarter and a few specific things I’m working to accomplish. Then at the end of the week (perhaps during my Weekend Coffee Share posts) I’ll check in and let you know how I fared with each new productivity and writing tactic and my ever-overwhelming to-do list.

I’m starting slow, but I’m definitely starting, and I hope that being accountable here and sharing what I’ve learned about what works might help you too.

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So how about you? What goals do you have for the week? And what is your plan to achieve them? Have you heard of or tried the “deep work” method? If so, what did you think? How did it fit into your lifestyle?

Let me know in the comments, or write your own goals post and link back if that’s easier.

Thanks for reading and good luck!

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Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Unsplash