Trying to figure it out

We really make our lives so complicated. Not even on purpose, which I think makes it worse. There’s so much unconscious stumbling along the path we call our lives. So much blind forward motion that we don’t even notice the things we cling to that make it what it shouldn’t. We’ve all gone through so much unconscious training. We watched those who raised us and took on their lessons, whether good or ill. We created unconscious systems that helped us avoid pain. We learned to ignore problems we felt we shouldn’t/couldn’t/don’t want to deal with. We pretend that any movement is better than none. We convince ourselves we’re doing the right thing.

I’ve seen this in myself for years. Ignored the quiet voice that suggests it’s all wrong because making it right would mean facing difficulties. I made my life complicated by thinking I was keeping it simple. Keeping to the design. Not rocking the boat or hurting people’s feelings.

What’s right?

But how should we know? Never are we taught how to be ourselves. Most of the time, we’re steered away from who we are. We believe we’re supposed to. We believe the adults in our lives have some grand knowledge, and listening to them will lead us towards greatness.

As an adult, I know this is a lie. Adults – people who are older than children – don’t know. I readily admit this. Yet we continue to teach the youth that they should be like us. We continue to teach them what we have experienced is not true.

Shouldn’t we intrinsically know who we are? Children know. Just watch them. No one laughs like a small child. That laugh that is impossible not to laugh along with. True joy. Forgetting that is something we’ve convinced ourselves is just a part of life. Well, sure, because we’ve all allowed it to be. What if we stopped molding people into our view of who they should be? What if we let them find out who they are? What if we stopped stealing everyone’s joy?

I’ve never been more sure about anything in my life that we are not ourselves. I’ve never been angrier at anything than I am at the public education system (that’s not entirely fair, and also a part of a different conversation). 

One Word

I set myself up for something I hadn’t considered this year when I decided to participate in One Word (read about my word discovery here). To follow my word for the year, journaling has become a significant part of my life. I used to journal – back in my school years, then occasionally throughout my life. Never with any real consistency; never really deep-diving into why my questions came up or couldn’t be answered. I never really tried to answer them. I assumed they were unanswerable. I assumed my existential dilemma was something I needed to manage.

Today, I know exactly why I didn’t look further than the surface. I didn’t want to face myself. When I first picked up my pen this year, I actually laughed about it. It came out so clean and clear on that first page. All my claims to be more self-aware than the average person were for crap when staring at how I’d blatantly ignored this detail for over a decade. I liked wallowing in my self-pity. And I was much too lazy to put in any work to be happy.


Over a decade. That statement above made me ill to write. So much wasted time, and for what? All in the name of avoidance. The stoics talk about this. About anticipating death at any moment, so you value time above all else. They say if you’re thirty years old, you’re actually thirty years dead. We’re not looking at 60 or 90 more years to live, but those years we’ve lived as being gone because we can’t know – with surety – how many days are left. If we never know when that last day will come, we will acknowledge each moment as precious as it is. This is why saying, out loud, that ten years of knowing a thing but not doing anything about it makes me physically ill. I know it does no good to be sad about the past, to stare into it, and let it cripple me. Still, I will take a moment to acknowledge it, lament it, and promise I will try to be more aware so I don’t waste more of my time like this. So easy to say, I know. Much harder to do. That’s why I try to commit to showing up every day. Some days will be great, some not so great, but always I will be there, allowing life to move through me, rather than reacting and/or hiding from it. That is my biggest problem. Hiding.

Back to Journaling

So, with my word for the year to guide me:


A Practice of Truthfulness

…guides us to think, speak, and act with integrity.


My first obstacle is to figure out how to know what I do is truthful. How do I know if ego is pulling me versus trusting it’s my purpose? That’s where journaling comes in and is super important. Because exactly – how can I know if I don’t know myself? I need to get into my head – deep, where it hurts and is uncomfortable.

Sure, sitting around thinking about things can be helpful. Except, until you say something out loud and/or put it on paper, it’s really just abstract ideas. Trust me. The thoughts of a brain do not directly translate to communication. I’m a fiction writer. I know how genius thoughts can be. Great ideas are so motivating! Then, I sit down to make them corporeal… lots of nothing tends to come out. There’s nothing really there. Trust me when I say, if it’s not put down in some concise manner, visually or vocally, it’s not real. Those brilliant thoughts are not what you think.

Journaling fleshes this all out. Journaling forces these ideas through questions whose answers explain much. Only when we figure out WHY we think things can we judge how valid they are. So much of what’s in my head is not honest or valuable. So much is just fear or misunderstanding or ignorance based on random facts(?) and encounters. So many are based on points made by people who didn’t know what they were talking about.

Effect or Affect?

I already feel better and more alive, more joyful and hopeful and just more like the person I was supposed to be after only a handful of sessions in front of these blank pages. Have I shown up every day? No. Do I not feel like it? Most of the time. There is so much farther for me to travel. So much more to uncover. There is still the work of creating a real habit out of it. Of remembering it’s working even when I think I don’t have time for it.

How to Journal

My first few journaling sessions were tedious. I literally did not know what to write. I was journaling for a particular reason, but the how of drawing that out – even still – is daunting. My underlying point is to connect with my Divine Self. To practice SATYA; to be truthful in my intention in all I do. Along this path, I know I’ll flesh out my true self. What can I possibly say that will sift through the layers of bullshit pretending to be me? What do I need to talk about to burrow into the real me? I won’t know until I get there. I won’t know until I let the ideas turn to precise thoughts.


One of my major problems lies in these questions of how to get there. I am horrible at enjoying the journey. I am goal-oriented, so find I’m often looking up and out. I need to see the destination before I trust I should even start a journey. If I have no clear action plan, if that plan does not align with the goal, I’ll sit around on my PS4 for months before I think to do anything about something I want/should/need to do. So here I am, staring at a blank page, needing to know which is the most efficient thing to talk about to get me there.

Any step will start it. EVERY path leads there. Sure, some ways are faster. Some tracks are more treacherous, have more distractions, more shiny baubles to make us forget. Others have lower lows and higher highs. ANY STEP. Just do it. Just show up, and things start to happen.

I listened to this. I did it. I just started writing, not even sure what I was talking about. Those words turned into a point that forced me to look and see, so more words flowed. Soon I had pages filled. Years of half-assed, kind-of-pretending to soul search and be better had primed me for this. I was more than ready to get into it. That’s not to say this will be/is one of those fast paths. Remember, a decade to get here. A decade to finally step onto the path ( *drawn-out breath* *ignore the frustration* ).

I don’t know if journaling into your inner thoughts is difficult and tedious. Those who are smarter and braver than me, who didn’t have pride keeping them back, maybe you found journaling hard at first because you had more to get through. Maybe the opposite. Tell me about your journey. 

Doing It

I now have two journals (composition notebooks). One I call my mind dump. The other is where I follow along to a prompt series. Sometimes, I don’t know what to say. Often, I need direction. Especially a direction that is an approach to lead me where I want to go. Most days, I do both. Even when I don’t think I know what to say, a cascade of thoughts comes pouring out as soon as I write a few words. Thoughts that dive through the crap I’ve wrapped around myself. Ideas that get to the heart of me. Ideas that may scrape away the things I think bother me, so I can let go and figure things out from an honest, kind, helpful, and genuine place. SATYA.

Do you journal? How have you found it helpful to your process/creativity/life/et al.?

If you have a favorite prompt or topic that has helped you really flesh yourself out, I’d love to hear it! Leave me a comment, or contact me through my contact page 🙂

Photo by Content Pixie on Unsplash

One Word

What is One Word?

Essentially, instead of making New Year’s resolutions, One Word is a word you divine from the universe to guide you through the year. In past years, I’ve had simplicity and patience, for example. Check out Jon Gordon to get all the details.

Finding my word

This year, I really struggled to find my WORD. I felt completely blank about it over the weeks I was trying to be open to hear it. When I realized the word wasn’t blasting through my head like it had in previous years, I paid more attention to the constant feeling I had about it. Following this vague sense, I looked up and researched through my limited vocabulary down a deep rabbit hole.

First, it was INTENTION

Intention was where I started. But that wasn’t focused enough.

Intention to attention… but that’s more than one word, and not exactly what I felt.
I needed intention to relate more with sourcing my purpose, with ensuring I take action towards a goal that is wise and fitting and not ruled by pride and ego.

I’ve read that yoga can mean “work.” Intentional action. So, I started looking up definitions of yoga. At this point, I was pretty sure YOGA was my WORD, but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t just creating something of my own making from the hints the universe handed out.

Yoga: a union between the self and the divine, or more accurately to realize my identity with the Divine; to know and tune into my intrinsic nature.

No, that doesn’t sound terrifying at all.

Yoga is (according to Patanjali):

Equanimity of mind in success and failure.
Discretion in work.
The remover of misery and destroyer of pain.
The most supreme self.
The giver of infinite happiness.
Complete control over patterns or modifications of the mind.

Yoga is a lot. Much more than ONE WORD. So, I kept digging, trying to slim this all-encompassing way into a piece I could focus on. The YAMAS is where I found my WORD.


…”absolute truth”, but Satya also refers to the virtue of being honest in thoughts, in actions and in words during everyday life…

Impeccable truth. Clear, truthful intention. Satya is my One Word.

The actual doing…

Of course, how to go about achieving even the slimmest level of this is my current task. Journaling has become my job this last week as I try to dissect my brain patterns, try to cess out the things that make me not be SATYA (is it a verb? can it be a verb?) and find a way towards it.

Have any suggestions? I’d love to hear them. I’d especially love to hear if you have a word to focus on for the year.

Sharing: How To Reduce Decision Fatigue

It’s crazy how long things might sit before I get to it. This email sat in my inbox for almost a year before I actually clicked on it. I guess this was the time I needed to read this article. Maybe it will help you as well 🙂

Click the link, or read the full article below.

How to Reduce Decision Fatigue
by Daniel Parsons

Everyone wants “it all,” but you often find that the few people who have everything they want actually filter a lot of seemingly important activities out of their lives. According to Psychology Today, this is because the average person is constantly making decisions – possibly up to 35,000 a day – and each one negatively impacts our focus and willpower. Therefore, when top performers minimise the number of trivial decisions they make per day, they retain more mental energy, which allows them to excel in their chosen fields.

On this topic, Eminem admits that he does practically nothing else when working on an album, and that tactic has made him one of the most accomplished rappers alive. Late Apple CEO Steve Jobs reportedly wore the same turtleneck every day to free up his decision-making power, a habit he attributed to his success as the head of a global company. Showing a similar mentality, Bruce Lee once said, “The successful warrior is the average man with laser-like focus.”

On a fundamental level, we all understand the power of simplicity. Think about the most common advice bestselling authors give on podcasts: writing a new book is the best way to market your last one; produce lots of content in one genre; advertising is easier when you have a bigger backlist. The message there is clear. Those who write lots of books in one genre tend to experience success.

So why do we continue to distract ourselves learning social media tricks, genre hopping and watching Netflix? Why do we make so many needless decisions and leave ourselves mentally frazzled? Understanding this particular ailment of the human condition might be a little ambitious for one blog post. What we can do, though, is treat the symptoms. Read on for tips that will help you reduce your decision fatigue and optimise your productivity.

Prioritize One Thing

In a meta way, your first priority should be to identify your priority work. What activity will have the greatest impact on your author business? It’s probably writing, of course, but you need to be more specific if you want to make a goal air-tight against excuses. If you have lots of unfinished manuscripts then settle on one book and don’t work on another project until it’s finished. If you have several incomplete series, consider writing more instalments in whichever one generates the most income. No multitasking or project-switching. Only then will you see your results advance at lightspeed.

Your one thing doesn’t have to be writing. That’s just a common factor that will benefit most authors. If you’re already prolific then learning how to advertise profitably might deliver you the greatest results, at least in the short term. For an author with 15 books and a stable stream of royalties, mastering Facebook, Amazon or BookBub ads could double book sales overnight, even without a new release. Whichever ads platform you choose to learn, committing to one at a time is the key to mastery. Not only does a singular focus make you less likely to be overwhelmed by decision fatigue but having only one brand of ads running at once will make it easier to track cause and effect, which will make you a better marketer.

Disconnect from the Internet

Everything is online: all the information and all the entertainment. And it only takes a momentary lapse in concentration to slide from book research to cat videos. Not only does this impulsive behaviour eat into your time but it also drains your capacity to think clearly. Every click and scroll contributes to your expanding brain fog. Websites and apps are essentially display cases of brightly coloured buttons, images, GIFs and videos. Browsing just one page can force your brain make dozens of choices:

Should I like that post?

Should I enter my email address?

Should I Google the lifespan of a platypus? (It’s 17 years.)

This approachable, all-knowing vampire will suck you dry. What’s worse, each unnecessary decision you make saps you of a little more willpower. This means that every second you’re online you become more susceptible to the temptations of passive browsing, you make more low-quality decisions and you become more likely to abandon your writing altogether because it requires too much brainpower.

Science indicates that once this spiral is set in motion, it becomes increasingly difficult to escape. Willpower is not enough. That’s why avoiding the internet altogether during your dedicated work hours (preferably in the morning) will drastically improve your energy retention and allow you to keep making wise decisions later into the day. Once you’ve achieved everything on your to-do list, you can swipe, browse, like and share as much as you want, confident that a good night’s sleep will fully replenish your willpower for the next morning.

Eradicate Lifestyle Decisions

Earlier in this post we touched on Apple’s late CEO, Steve Jobs, and how he habitually wore the same black turtleneck and jeans every day. Look into it and you will find that Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg follows a similar regimen. So did Barack Obama during his time at the oval office. The reason isn’t laziness. Actually, it’s the opposite. They all realised that, by stripping unnecessary decisions from their lives, like which clothes to wear, they became more able to make effective billion-dollar decisions.

This habit isn’t exclusively for the one percent, ether. It doesn’t require cash, a private jet or superhuman strength. Anyone can pre-plan what clothes they wear all week, what to cook and when to exercise. In fact, doing so will make you more likely to get ready quicker, eat healthily and train consistently when everything is already organised and sticking to your plan becomes the path of least resistance.

Keeping your laptop stationed at the same workspace every day will have a similar effect, reinforcing your writing habit by minimising the effects of decision fatigue. Try it: find and eradicate as many unnecessary choices from your day as you can. It will make you more likely to start work and more able to stay in the flow state once you have begun.

Take Proper Breaks

Self-development “gurus” talk a lot about structuring your work blocks but they rarely address how you can benefit from structuring your breaks. That might seem counterintuitive at first glance. “I thought the point of a break was to forget about structure and relax,” you might say. And, in part, it is. But if you don’t consider setting some rules and limits, your breaks can easily become the Achilles heel of your productivity plan, and I don’t just mean when you let them run for longer than intended. Long or short, a poorly-executed break can actually have a detrimental effect on the time you do spend working.

Think about it this way: how do you take a break? Do you close your laptop, push it aside and immediately start browsing the internet on your phone? Don’t worry, we all do it occasionally. While passive browsing might feel relaxing because it soothes our internet addition, as we have already learned, the internet is an energy vampire. Thus, it doesn’t count as a proper break.

A better option would be to do something that doesn’t involve a screen. Perhaps sit quietly in the garden or brew a cup of tea. Fold laundry. Stroll around the block. Just be sure to keep a tight rein on how long your breaks last or that short relief period can easily turn into more than an hour. Set a timer if you need to. Think of it as a reverse-Pomodoro, a way to concentrate on true relaxation for a specific block of time.

Get Moving

Speaking of strolling, according to studies conducted at Harvard Medical School, walking once a day will boost your mental capacity in the short term, such as before a test or creative writing session. In addition, it also slows your brain’s decline over a span of decades, therefore enabling you to stay sharp for longer.

For writers, walking has two standout benefits. Firstly, a walk (without your phone) forces you to step away from screens and reduces the temptation to trawl the internet during a break. Secondly, it stimulates subconscious thought. Have you ever noticed that eureka moments often arrive when you’re jogging or traipsing around a shopping mall? That’s because aerobic activities, much like sleep, encourage you to enter a meditative state. In doing so, your subconscious mind starts to wander and process ideas you’ve accumulated throughout the day. What this means is that exercise will both distance you from distractions and help you overcome story issues that might have been halting your progress.

Using just one of these strategies can enhance your energy levels during a writing session. A combination of them has the power to supercharge your productivity, discipline and stamina, meaning you will be able to write better, faster, and for longer than ever before.

One Becomes Two Becomes Eleventy-Billion

I started a task list. Another one, if we’re being honest, but this one was meant to be more detail-oriented; to help break items down into smaller parts. The task list that might actually facilitate progress and completeness.

I didn’t even realize all the things stacking up. Talk about overwhelming. One item became two became four became eleventy-billion.

So, it was serendipitous this popped up:

(An article from Weight Watchers)

3 Reasons to take a mental health day

Taking a day off to ease your mind isn’t irresponsible—it’s a necessary part of staying healthy.

Everyone agrees that you should stay home when you’re not feeling well. (In fact, your co-workers will probably appreciate it.) But what about when you’re not feeling mentally well? Here are our tips to taking a day off for literal peace of mind.

1. Take (the right) time off.
The goal of taking a mental health day is to lower your stress levels and come back to work (or school or even parenting) feeling stronger and healthier. Think about why you need this break—if it’s because you’re trying to avoid your boss, you might want to think of another way to cope. On the other hand, if you’re feeling totally burnt out and distracted, then taking a day to clear your mind could be exactly what your body needs.

2. Be productive.
What do you need? If it’s catching up on sleep, do it. If it’s a massage or yoga, prioritize that instead.

It’s also fine to take this time to tackle the nagging tasks on your to-do list. If your finances are stressing you out, try making a budget; if your house is a mess, carve out a few hours to clean the bathroom and do laundry. It’ll all make you feel better.

3. Don’t overload yourself.
Taking a mental health day should help you solve a problem, not add to your guilt and anxiety. Don’t pack on the pressure to get an absurd amount of chores done. Just prioritize a few things and try to enjoy the time away.

This caveat of not feeling guilty about taking a “day off” is big. That’s often my problem. Doing this instead of this adds more stress because I don’t trust my decision. Relaxing rather than getting something done makes the relaxing worthless.

This week, a book I’ve waited to release drops. I’m taking an entire day to concentrate on reading it (that’s how I read. All at once 🤣) By scheduling it, I hope to avoid any thoughts that I should be doing something else, or even that I haven’t earned this down time.

I’m not sure just writing a to-do list warrents a mental health day. Maybe I should check a few things off the list first. Still, being aware, knowing taking a step back is actually good for productivity, is helpful.

What do you think about mental health days?