My job is kind of chaotic. Los Angeles traffic is extremely stressful. And too many life changes can get me all worked up. I often have this feeling of upending doom when things are going well for more than a week.
While I have many ways with dealing with my stress—praying, exercising, counseling, list-making, and sleeping in—sometimes it’s not enough. So when I feel overwhelmed and can’t seem to find the source, I simplify.
First step, I clean my room.
The best advice I ever read about cleaning my mind by cleaning my room was by a famous Poet Laureate and writing teacher, Billy Collins.
He said,ADVICE TO WRITERS
By Billy Collins
Even if it keeps you up all night,
wash down the walls and scrub the floor
of your study before composing a syllable.
Clean the place as if the Pope were on his way.
Spotlessness is the niece of inspiration.
The more you clean, the more brilliant
your writing will be, so do not hesitate to take
to the open fields to scour the undersides
of rocks or swab in the dark forest
upper branches, nests full of eggs.
When you find your way back home
and stow the sponges and brushes under the sink,
you will behold in the light of dawn
the immaculate altar of your desk,
a clean surface in the middle of a clean world.
From a small vase, sparkling blue, lift
a yellow pencil, the sharpest of the bouquet,
and cover pages with tiny sentences
like long rows of devoted ants that followed you in from the woods.
–Reprinted from The Apple That Astonished Paris, by Billy Collins (The University of Arkansas Press); 1988
Second, I redecorate.
I’m not talking a full on buy new stuff because I can’t control my life. But I am talking, moving my bed and imagining new places in my room for my little treasure to dwell. I have two little birds (it’s no secret that I love them) and the live on my window sill. I like the way the light hits them against my see through curtains.
I used this as my inspiration for the rest of the room. I reorganized my desktop to look like a desk from an forgotten generation. Books of Ole’ and ancient artifacts.
Third, I go through my closet.
I LOVE giving away stuff. That’s right. I like to shop, but I love to give away clothes as well. I’ve been on a personal mission to only keep a few trendy things and invest in timelessness.
In that, I’ve truly enjoyed inviting my stylish friends over, usually one that is fashion-forward, and the other that is vintage-inspired. I try on articles of clothing and they say whether it fits well or not, and then they help to pair it with other articles of clothing. It was so much fun and I have so many new and exciting outfits. And I got rid of a lot of stuff! It felt good to give it away to those who need it more than me, including friends who are struggling and the Goodwill.
Lastly, I light candles and read, then I take a walk.
When I finish cleaning my room, redecorating, and reinventing, I spend time in there. Then I leave for a short while and come home to find the novelty of newness.
I notice the way the cleanliness makes me feel, and I let that inspire me to not go on “Room Strike” as my good friend Courtney puts it. The smell of my lavender candle reminds me to relax.
This simplification process reminds me of Revelations, where the speaker writes: “Behold, I’m making all things new.”
Ah the simple life.
What do you do to keep it simple?
A good example of mentorship is fashion or photography. Often times, ambitious and talented people in these circles will try to find a person they admire and work under them. Even if it means taking out their trash, they’ll do it. The general public doesn’t see this side, their view is often one dimensional. Our generation just thinks fame and success are handed to people. It’s just not the case.
1. Serious in mind or intention
2. Showing or characterized by sincerity of intention
3. Demanding or receiving serious attention
I know a successful drummer. He only works as a drummer, which is rare, if you’re not touring constantly. People who know him now just think that he has rare talent and that is why he is successful. But those closest to him know the hard work that he put in since he was 13 to get where he is today. People don’t see that he charts out every song, or that he practices more than any person I know in any job. They just see the bright lights and funky beats.
It’s a facade. It’s time to figure out what you love and start practicing it.
The golden ratio
passion + time + skill = success.
After speaking with him for some time, I began to change my idea of success. He explained that the same disciplines and sacrifices that I make daily to reach my goals, were similar to his story. So go for your dreams, but be honest and earnest. It’s going to take time, sweat, and sacrifice to be a person of substance.
Having a Mentor is like asking someone to be your biggest fan. I remember when I met mine, set up by my boss, it was an instant success! She had already walked the paths that I was considering. She had a M.A. in Women’s Studies, she was a writer/blogger since 1995, and she was now an Editor for an online women’s forum for Yahoo! She had the experiences, failures, successes, and years that I could only hope to have in my life.
Wisdom and experience go hand in hand. Many women our age believe they are entitled to the same things as people 10 years older. Why don’t I get that job? Where’s my raise? I paid for this to get that…
Experience will always win.
Which is why I challenge you to look into a mentorship program. If you’d like to become a lawyer, find one in the realm you’re interested in, and ask her if you can pick her brain. If you’d like to be an editor of a magazine, look up the editor of the magazine you like the most and contact them. Forget about fear of rejection. What do you lose in asking? I’ve only gained insight and guidance. It’s been a fulfilling exercise in how to take instruction.
-My younger cousin Rachel and I at her graduation from College.
I once told a co-worker that I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about birds, flowers, and love. Call me an optimist, a romantic, or a fool, but such things keep my heart soft.
When I am having a rough day controlling my thoughts, I try to do an about face. I have chosen these three things to think about; here is the reason why. When I think about the past, I get stuck in regrets. When I think about the future, it’s only healthy for a minute, then I get anxious. When I think about the present, outside of what I need to get done, I can become depressed. It’s me thinking about me that is the problem, not the past, future or present.
Something tells me that the joy that I feel when I think and research birds, flowers, and love, along with all the wonders of the world, it automatically takes my mind off of myself. I like reflect of all the little beauties God created for us to enjoy.
And that is my secret for happiness.
“Folly loves the martyrdom of fame.” —Lord Byron
People have two choices on how to move on after a major crisis: bitterness or acceptance. In the midst of true tragedy, be it a grievous loss or a natural disaster, we hardly have the time for self-reflection.
The shock wears off. Suddenly regret and relief hit us in an eerie way.
How do we move past the fork of bitterness and acceptance? If we are not careful to fully grieve the loss of a friendship or a loved one, a seeping hardness begins to envelop our hearts. At first we hardly notice we’re less sympathetic to the homeless child on the street, or we tune out the problems of a close friend. We write it off as a bad day. We’re just trying to survive right?
Eventually, (and this WILL happen) there will be a last straw. Someone betrays you, and you lash out like an alligator. Self-control flies out the window, along with good sense and rational thought. You find yourself worked up and angry.
Because when you had a lot of little choices to become a person who accepts life with grace, you chose to accept bitterness. That seed planted well. Your fruit is outrage.
I am not claiming that anger is not a necessary feeling, I am just letting you know that the roots of bitterness are deep. Eventually, all roots make their way to the tip of a tree, and to the fruit. You serve that fruit to all you know. Bitterness eventually spoils the relationships around you.
Here are some of the symptoms; you may find yourself yelling or picking on your boyfriend. Maybe even badmouthing your boss? You may want to search your pretty little heart for the root that you may not have known has settled in deep.
For more information look into this verse from the Bible: Hebrews 12:15, “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.”
Men love in haste, but they detest at leisure.” —LORD BYRON, Don Juan
Five dollars and some change got my friend Maejae and I into the downtown flower market here in LA. We rode the Metro and the Bus. We got a $4 dollar coffee, and paid a dollar to get into the wonderful world of strange flowers: The LA Flower Mart.
If you’re broke, I encourage you to find out if you have free or inexpensive activities to fill your mind with magic. I like to photo document my trips to remind myself that boredom is a character trait. Often, I just need to keep my eyes open.
Being a tourist takes some getting used to, but after a while you stop caring. Look at the outcome, some of my favorite photos came from a $10 day.
All women have wings some have roots, many have both. If you have a list of countries to visit from when you were small, you may have wings.
Conversely, if you have already planned your wedding from that same age, you might have roots. If you know you want that “one day,” you may have caught the infectious disease: Wanderlust.
If you’re on the fence, I’d like to gently push you with some reasons to travel after graduation.
5. EXPAND YOUR MIND: Living under strict schedules and inflexibility can help some women thrive, but for the Creative Wanderers, more often than not, they become confined to their mind. New experiences like the Pompeii Volcano in Italy remind us to step outside of ourselves. These people were just living their lives—though scandalous even for our societies’ standards—and suddenly they were no more. Expand your mind, because today could be your last experience.
4. EXPAND YOUR HORIZONS: After a trip to a new horizon, like an orphanage in Mexico, a person changes for the better. When we travel to see the devastation in the world, it reminds us that we as the most wealthy nation need to help others. Don’t feel bad if you don’t seem to care now, but after you visit a country in need, you will never forget. Your horizon and priorities will change.
3. EXPAND YOUR SKILL SET: Writing and sketching are a skill, not just a talent. One of the most genuinely inspiring times in my life to write, read, and sketch was out on the road. The long transportation rides proved ample time to hone some skills that take time and discipline to master. Why not draw a castle you toured in the South of Ireland. I have cherished my skills I learned while abroad, for instance, I can set dance, and it’s a party hit.
2. EXPAND YOUR NETWORK: It’s about who you know. Many study abroad to travel and not study with the intention of breaking out of their immediate circle. My experience is that you meet some of your best friends, doing what you love most. A program called www.couchsurfing.org helped my friend and I travel Italy and Greece on the cheap, but now we have 7 new friends and places to stay if we return. Your network is not only a career term, it should be a life goal.
1. EXPAND YOUR WORLD VIEW: Try and figure out what you think or believe. Since you’ve been under the reign and rule of your parents or school for so long, it’s time to figure out what you believe. Visiting the Sacre Coeur in Paris and Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia in Barcelona reminded me as a young impressionable thing, that I needed to figure out mortality. I knew I was alive. But traveling was the one way my brain could grasp eternity.
The world is smaller and larger than you think. Go ahead, expand your network, skill set, horizon, and mind, but travel to remember that you are not just here, but here for a purpose.
Do you agree? Did you travel after graduation?
You’re not just here, but here for a purpose.
I have had the opportunity to speak with women, young and old, whom believe that they have no purpose or hope. While I think they are crazy, possessing skills and wisdom that is unique to who they are, they believe they’ve missed out on something.
This conversation has happened so frequently, I am starting to realize it’s an epidemic.
Why do we let our minds float away to the greener grass? Are we mere sheep? Is it our only desire and purpose to worry about the future and regret the past?
I’d like to ask this question, is there something more to life than the pursuit of happiness?
Often I think about how empty a life is when our main goal is to serve ourselves. Women, especially, are relational people. When everything in our culture is telling us that there is more out there, we forget what we have.
A counsellor once told me, the opposite of depression is gratefulness.
I challenge you to write down 10 things that you have that you know others don’t. Then, when you are finished with that list, make a conscious decision to make those things better. I will give you mine as an example. I’d love to hear your thoughts!
1. Clean Water
3. Parents who are still together
4. Siblings - 3 Brothers!
5. A HS and College education and a job
6. At least 10 close friends
7. A true faith
8. An imagination
9. A desire to help others
10. The means to eat every day
If you still don’t feel grateful, read about what Charity:Water is up to… They have identified that most of the world has dirty water to drink. If nothing else, be thankful for water.
by E. E. Cummings maggie and milly and molly and may
went down to the beach(to play one day) and maggie discovered a shell that sang
so sweetly she couldn’t remember her troubles,and milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were; and molly was chased by a horrible thing
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles:and may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone. For whatever we lose(like a you or a me)
it’s always ourselves we find in the sea