Charlottesville

Every week, I share the most interesting and inspiring content I’ve read lately here on my blog: thoughts on productivity, happiness, balance, spirituality, politics, and more. Subscribe here to get updates. 

Inspiration: August 18 >> Life In Limbo

It’s been a dark week, my friends. I am devoting this week’s “Inspiration” post to information regarding the events in Charlottesville last weekend: things I have found to be personally helpful or educational. Obviously the word “inspiration” is not right here (the name of my usual weekly link round-up posts), and yet I have found small glimmers of light in some of these resources, showing us ways to make sense of what has happened, and how we can try to move forwards. Others among these are horrifying and painful to watch, but remember that it is a privilege to look away.

First: this VICE documentary is what has pierced me the most. It is the best reporting I’ve seen of the events of last weekend.

Imagine if these people ever faced actual oppression.

Sam Sanders spoke with white people about Charlottesville. This episode provides a lot of practical information about how to be a good ally (And how not to be. Hint: it’s not about you or how personally racist you are or are not.)

Brené Brown’s Facebook Live is a must-watch.

I really enjoyed the Bonus Pod and DeRay’s interview with Common on Pod Save the People. This episode of Pod Save America was also good.

An important reminder about ‘getting political’ and privilege.

Tina Fey is funny but also angry and has some important points to make (while stress-eating).

Another reminder to follow, read, and amplify the voices of people of colour. I’m starting with The Root, Colorlines, Black Lives Matter, HuffPo Black Voices. One super simple way to do this is to like & follow these websites and pages on Facebook. If you have other suggestions, please let me know!


If you have other further articles or resources that you found powerful or helpful, please leave me a comment below. Thanks for reading. Sending you love & light, always. xo.

On Setting Expectations

On Setting Expectations >> Life In Limbo

I’ve been working full-time as a creative freelancer for more than a year now. Working from home and setting my own schedule is pretty great, but believe it or not, there are some downsides to not having a boss to tell you what to do. There’s no rulebook when it comes to working for yourself, so you spend a lot of time wondering, Am I doing this right? Is there a better way to do this? Hello? Anyone?

I’ve been lucky in that I’ve found an amazing creative community here in Toronto, and that I am now able to work exclusively for incredible companies and individuals. Both of these groups of people teach me something new almost every single day and continually challenge my thinking on so many ideas around work, productivity, balance, and happiness.

That said, a lot of my work habits and routines are a weird mishmash of tidbits I’ve found on podcasts, a whole lot of trial and error, and asking myself good, thoughtful questions.

One of my favourite questions to ask lately is:

Is this the expectation I want to be setting?

Put differently: Is the action I’m taking right now what I want to teach people to expect from me going forward?

It’s amazing how much this one little question clarifies things for me and helps me set boundaries without needing to have a “tough conversation” with someone, either in a professional or personal context. Whether or not you work for yourself, this question can be helpful in all kinds of different settings.

On Setting Expectations >> Life In Limbo

Here are some examples where I’ve recently let this question inform my choices:

At work

I try to never answer a work email after  “quitting time”. Whether or not I’m working that night on other projects or at my computer, I don’t want to set the expectation that you can expect a response from me outside of work hours. I also turn off Slack notifications after work, and close the app entirely during periods of the work day when I want to get down to business and not be distracted. Responding more slowly means that people won’t constantly expect you to respond right away! It’s like magic. It goes without saying that you can’t totally drop the ball and expect to keep your job, but pacing your responses is something we can all do, within reason. I’d go so far as to say it’s something that we all have to do, in order to keep our sanity.

Over Text

For a few months, there were days when I’d find myself having long text conversations with friends and family during my work hours. Yes, I set my own schedule, but the truth is that I know what my productive hours are and messages pinging in all day makes it really hard to stick to them! I now try to respond later in the day, for example on my lunch break, to avoid the “instant-messaging” type of conversations during hours that are crucial to my productivity. Putting my phone and computer on Do Not Disturb mode helps with this immensely so that I don’t have to resist temptation: I don’t even know the messages are coming in until I’m in a better place to respond to them.

With Friends

When I first moved to the city, I was so desperate to hang out with my friends that I would always offer to come to their homes or locations that were convenient to them. This would sometimes mean that I was going an hour and a half out of my way for a short visit. Of course, I don’t regret any of these meet ups – I love my friends and have been so happy to live in a city where I’m nearby so many of them. What I do regret is setting the expectation that it will always be me who will travel out of my way to meet up. Balance is important in any relationship, and it is up to me to communicate my expectations by suggesting places closer to a halfway point or in my own neighbourhood.

***

In all of these cases my choices reflect my own values and are specific to my life. That’s why the question is so open-ended! Maybe you want to set different expectations from me, and that’s great too: the point is to be intentional about your actions. For you, maybe it’s about re-assessing how often you organize events for your friends, or how much money you’re charging clients, or how often you’re cleaning up after your roommate. How we speak, act, and respond to people teaches them how to treat us in ways both big and small. Clarifying what we desire or require from others in any given situation, and then acting accordingly, is a way of being more proactive about our lives.

Let me know some ways you try to be mindful about the expectations you set for others in the comments! I’m always hoping to be inspired to put great ideas into action in my own life.

Inspiration: August 11

Every week, I share the most interesting and inspiring content I’ve read lately here on my blog: thoughts on productivity, happiness, politics, and more. Subscribe here.

Inspiration August 11 >> Life In Limbo

First and foremost: Oprah has a podcast now. I have been hella inspired (and a little teary-eyed) all week as a result. Listen!

Maxine Waters inspires the heck out of me. Let’s all reclaim our time!

Absolutely hilarious and so refreshing.

File under: things I want to do with my Bullet Journal next!

Love your dad because he’s your father, because he made you, because he thinks for himself, and most of all because he is a person. Have the strength to doubt and question what you believe as easily as you’re so quick to doubt his beliefs. And if you do pick a side, pick the side of love. It remains our only real hope for survival and has more power to save us than any other belief we could ever cling to. This is good advice for any time we are baffled or hurt by the beliefs of people around us.

Don’t be a victim of the Sunk Cost Fallacy. It’s such a struggle, but I see people (and myself) falling for it all the time.

As a Questioner, I’m storing away this article about a possible link between sugar and depression as more motivation to avoid eating it.

This video of another side of Jim Carrey inspires me to make more stuff, do more art, and give in to my creative impulses.

Reminder: you can change your life. You can make different choices, starting from today.


Speaking of changing your life by making little choices – guys, I started sleeping with my phone (also my wake up alarm) charging in the kitchen last week and OH MY GOODNESS. This is a thing I have heard about doing and thought about doing for approximately ten years, all the while being like “Why can’t I wake up earlier??” Yeah, surprise, putting your alarm outside your bedroom actually does work, but you actually have to, in fact, do it first. Let my idiocy be a lesson you can learn from. I have been so much more productive and balanced. Yay me!

This weekend we are seeing family friends and I’m so excited to see everyone – including the puppy. Follow along on Instagram stories, if you like. I hope you have a wonderful weekend too. xo.

PS. Last week I updated my Archive page to make it prettier and more functional. Explore almost 10 years (!!!) of posts here.

New York City 2017

This was my third summer visiting one of my best friends Katie in NYC, and it was just as amazing as ever. These trips are always one of the highlights of my year, not only because it’s great to spend time laughing and talking for hours with one of my favourite people, but also because there’s something so special about New York City. The food, the energy, the light at sunset, the views, the parks: everything feels special, even the ordinary things.

Last year I made a video of my trip and I wanted to do the same this time, but I was also tired and didn’t relish the thought of carrying my camera around everywhere and all the editing afterwards. So, inspired by this travel video, I turned to my trusty 1 Second Everyday app and used my phone camera instead. I loved this method and would definitely use it to document future trips, though I might try the Cameo app next time, since I love how Christine’s videos turn out as well.

PS. See my NYC 2016 video here.