Celebrate the Small Wins

Today is the last day of National Blog Post Writing Month, and it also happens to be the longest work day I’ve had in a very long time, at 11 hours and counting. I’m tired, and I still want to work on my newsletter and Inspiration links before I get to bed, so it seems like as good a time as any to celebrate the small wins.

Celebrate the Small Wins >> Life In Limbo

I wrote a blog post for every day in November after I committed to the challenge (from the 3rd onwards)!

Despite the long work day, I still got to Inbox Zero.

I got to talk to one of my favourite people on my commute home.

I don’t normally have to commute home.

I work with (mostly) extremely understanding and supportive people.

Tomorrow is Friday.

My cat didn’t puke anywhere in my apartment while I was out.

I drove a car around Toronto today and didn’t hit anything and managed to park on busy streets and not freak out too badly.

There was a bottle of wine waiting for me when I got home. (Monkey covering eyes emoji.)

My stepmom sent me a cute picture of their dog today.

I fixed one small piece of what’s wrong with the website for one of my clients.

It’s the beginning of a fresh new month tomorrow.

Thanks for hanging out for NaBloPoMo this year! This will be the end of my daily blogging, at least for the next little while, but I hope to write more frequently in general in the future. I appreciate all your comments and support! You are all huge wins for me.

My Work Manifesto

When people find out I’m self-employed, they usually respond one of three ways:

  • “Don’t you get bored?”
  • “Don’t you get lonely?”
  • “I could never do that.”

These responses don’t really bother me, mostly because I’m usually too busy not being bored, not being lonely, and doing things I love, to notice. I know that my lifestyle is probably not right for everyone, but it’s just right for me.

My Work Manifesto >> Life In Limbo

The walls of my home office. Lettering by Laura Fraser!

While yes, of course, I have boring days, and lonely ones (doesn’t everyone?), for me the freedom of structuring my days and the giddy joy of getting to work on projects I find interesting makes it 100% worth it for me. Most of the time, I remember this and feel incredibly grateful for the quirky career I’m building for myself.

Sometimes though, I forget this and feel sluggish, or stir-crazy, or even – yes! – bored. The afternoons are usually the worst for this, especially if I haven’t been careful with shielding myself from notifications and getting focused work done.

Today I feel amazing (a book I’ve been helping to launch is officially published tomorrow!) so I thought I’d take advantage of my great mood and write my work manifesto, to read whenever I forget, that will help me embrace my work-life:

Don’t treat a gift like a burden

It’s a fun job and I enjoy it

If not this, then an exact replica

Go play hooky

Resist the expectation of an immediate response

The work always gets done

If overwhelmed, dim the noise

Don’t work with your email (or Slack or phone) open

Hold firm on your boundaries

Not for every day, but for some days

Throw your problems in a pile

I am not a robot

What helps you reframe your work? What mantras help you stay focused and grateful?

Wake Up to the Light

I just got home from a blissful twenty-four hours off the grid. No cell phone reception, no wifi, no phone, no social media. 24 hours without alerts or pings or messages. 24 hours of peace & quiet, literally. 24 hours of space, physically, spiritually and emotionally. Turns out that 24 hours of real space and deep quiet is quite enough to leave you feeling refreshed and rested. (That said, I could have easily stayed for a week.)

Wake Up to the Light >> Life In Limbo

One unexpected delight of all this extra space was rediscovering the feeling of not knowing the time. It was such a joy to lose track of time while doing “nothing” with a small group of people, or by myself. We went for a long walk in the snow and watched the light fade from the sky. We watched the fire and tended it when it got low. We made snacks and dinner when we needed them. We drank water when we needed it. We had long conversations when we needed them. We read books when we wanted to. We journaled. We lingered.

And this morning, I woke up to the light coming in the window. It had snowed overnight, and the view from our bunk bed was like a postcard. Every single tiny branch had a little layer of snow: pristine and picturesque and perfect. What a treat, to let my body have the sleep it needed, and to let the light wake me up without an alarm.

I’m home now, and trying to hold on to the calm and quiet I felt while we were away. Maybe I won’t wake up to a postcard view every single day, but I think I can make things quieter, do things that help me lose track of time, and find ways – literally and metaphorically – to wake up to the light.

Recalibrating My Days

A couple weeks back, I wrote an Instagram post about remembering to go outside for a walk in the early evening, before the sun went down:

“Today I was working at my desk trying to rush and get stuff done before the weekend, but luckily took a pause and said to myself, if you don’t go outside now, it’ll be dark out and too late to go for a walk. So I went. And it was beautiful, and quiet, and there weren’t many people around, and the sky was gorgeous. And suddenly what I had been rushing to do didn’t seem so urgent.

Recalibrating My Days >> Life In Limbo

This idea has been with me for a long time – all the way back to when I had a “Don’t miss the moment” poster taped to my wall, and probably before that. I never want to look up and realize that I’ve missed all the sunshine, or get home from a party and have the yucky feeling like I wasn’t truly present for any of it, or that it’s only fun now that I’m reflecting on it after the fact.

This philosophy requires a lot of flexibility, creativity, and mindfulness, things that I am constantly working on developing for myself. I’m a person who likes routines, and can easily start to measure myself on how well I’m sticking to my (arbitrarily-established) routine on a daily basis. That night, rushing to get stuff done felt like the price I had to pay in order to enjoy my evening and relax, until I remembered that I am self-employed, I set my own schedule, and I can relax right now.

With this in mind, I’m making an effort to recalibrate my days to celebrate the change in seasons. Instead of getting all my work done before I go for my daily walk, I’m sticking my nature time right into the middle of my work day. This week, I’ve been going for a long leisurely walk right smack dab after lunch, soaking up the midday sunshine when it’s at its peak, instead of hoping to catch a few weak rays of it in the late afternoon.

Yesterday I went to the park near my house and laid down on a picnic table in the sun, cloud-watching and appreciating the light through the leaves on the giant trees. It felt “wrong” somehow to be doing this before I’d “earned it” (ugh @ myself sometimes, you know!?!), but it also felt so good. When I got back to my desk, I was able to be way more productive because I didn’t feel rushed, and I didn’t have to mourn the sun setting at 5:30PM before I’d had a chance to enjoy it properly. I’d enjoyed it already.

I know not everyone has the freedom to recalibrate their days to the extent that I do, but maybe you can walk on your lunch break. Maybe you can wake up earlier and sit quietly beside the window in the morning light. Maybe you can go outside for a five minute Vitamin D break.

As I try to embrace the change in seasons (so far, so good!), this tiny recalibration is making a big difference for me. How do you restructure your life as seasons change?