THE Happy Turtle

More lessons learned from the littles in my life. I get pointed messages from my nephews and niece all the time. My teachers have gotten smaller. When I lived in Maui, I had a kumu- teacher- named Uncle Sonny, who was about 70-ish and took me under his wing. So, that one's obvious, but teachers came in all sorts of ways. They were often strangers. People at the bar stool next to me while I was waiting for my friend to get off work. Some lady next to me waiting in line. Some random person I interviewed for the paper. A hoity toity at the gallery says something that she doesn't even know is profound. Sometimes, now, it is in the form of nature, a billboard, or the radio... It's so funny who your teachers are, if you only listen, remain open, and have the ability for introspection. 

We were at Joshie's skating/hockey practice a few weeks back. He just turned 6yrs old. He was in his poofy winter down jacket, with the sewing making horizontal lines across his body, and a bike helmet as the protective shell. He was smiling and just so happy out there on the ice. He reminded me of a cartoon character, or the main character of a children's book. "He looks like a happy turtle," I told my sister. "He does!" She confirmed. Later, when they were trying to skate backwards, all the older kids were flying past him, he was barely moving. He did not care one bit and kept on smiling, excited as all get out, concentrating and laughing in intervals.

                                  THE HAPPY TURTLE

                                  THE HAPPY TURTLE

Fast forward a few weeks. I'd been having a rough time. Projecting into the future for my business, how the field was changing, I was contemplating going in a different direction with it. I called an old mentor whom I admire and received an extremely negativite outlook instead of hope for this field that I have chosen. 

Not only that, but that deep dark spiral had already set in. When I go down this road of trying to get a clear path in my head, I tend to analyze every area of my life, and at that moment it was not shaping up as I imagined it would by this point. The day job, personal endeavors, artistic endeavors, goals, aspirations, wanderlust, even relationships (which I always forget about until my extended family asks me. "Oh yeah, I have to put that on the list too"... I am still fighting that battle of yearning for freedom, adventures, my own dreams and ambitions, and the other side- intimacy, comfort, and family. This struggle gets dusted off, then sits on the shelf again, then drops in my face again, in a viscious distorted cycle. Most people know for sure one way or the other. I just wish I had about twenty more years on this bastard of a clock). It was just one of those times. They happen. I can look back on how far I have come, what I have accomplished, the crazy, amazing adventures I've had, all the wonderful people in all the chapters of my life, even old passions that I've pursued in the past that I don't currently that made me ME... Even though I can see all of this and be truly grateful, and proud, still, those days, the dark spriral, they will still happen. I know this. Sneaky bastards.

After that phone call, I leaned my head back and just thought to myself, "Why did I pick this field"? Why am I doing all of this, spending so much energy, and putting so much into all of this? Even things like just writing this blog... Images of my high school counselors warning me to go for something else popped in my head. I opened my eyes and saw the shimmering leaves above my head in my backyard, with the prettiest golden sunset backlighting them. And I thought, "because I see the beauty in the world. I see things that others don't. And I want to share that. That is all." I smiled. 

The Happy Turtle came to mind just then. Why can't I be The Happy Turtle? Who cares how slowly I'm going? At least I'm doing it. All the things. I'm still doing them... I complained to my mother once that having too many passions is a curse and I have a hard time seeing it as a blessing. There's never enough time to actually DO all of the things. You can't really excel or find "success" at any one of them when you are so spread out. What if I never get anywhere "REAL" with any of these things? "When you’re doing them, do they make you happy?" "Yeah." Point taken. Why can't that be enough? It should be enough, right?

Once you hit a goal, there will always be more. Always more striving. Where I am now in my own business- I longed for this a few years back. Mark Manson says the striving is where happiness lies. I can see that. The process is the thing, not the result. The motivation, the inspiration, the expression, the action. I also love his words on "mediocrity". Creatives put so much damn pressure on ourselves. Meaning, purpose, worldy change!, leaving your mark, helping others, making a difference...  It's all so fucking heavy. Having this conversation with a friend who is left-brained, an engineer, I asked her if she does this to herself. "No. I work to pay bills. I do that to love up on my kids and enjoy the lake on the weekends." Period. Wow. I was so jealous for that simplicity. I am a different breed, and it's inevitable to feel low when you have more and more goals than you could possibly ever achieve. (And on another level, when you have kids, BAM! You automatically have purpose, meaning; you are making a difference. So, that definitely is part of the psychological onion for me.) But Manson made me think when he talked about the idea that most people in the world are "mediocre," by our crazy ass standards, when you think about it. He asks if that means that for MOST of the people who have ever lived-- that their lives didn't matter? Huh. Is Mark Manson giving me permission to calm the fuck down? I'll take that.   

So, this post is automatically scheduled to come out on my birthday. I never work on my birthday. I will be at the beach before any evening plans take way. On my birthday, every year, I immerse myself in nature. Water, green luscious scenery, and I get lost in just being a human, grateful for the beauty. "Just be". For a short amount of time, I am no one’s daughter, sister, aunt, friend, girlfriend, coworker, boss lady... I’m just me. Feeling the wind, smelling the smells, taking in the wonder and awe of it all. I don't give a shit about accomplishments or how productive I'm being. I try to turn the creative brain off. It's tough. (Even when I take vacations, I am now thinking about how I could turn it into a travel article, with photos.. So, how is that time off, really?)

I used to do this so easily in Maui. I mean, how could you not? The simplicity of happiness. I was so relieved to find folks who also did not agree with "You are what you do". No one buys that shit there. They don't even buy that you are a "mother", "wife", "girlfriend", whatever, as your identity. Such a different, wonderful, peaceful mindset over there. I told myself that I would keep this mindset when I moved back. "Across the Universe," by The Beatles, was playing as I made this vow. "Nothing's gonna change my world"... Being back in the midwest, I can't help but feel that while my heart fully resonates with "You are NOT what you do", my ambitions are contradictory and will take on society's logic- that I don't even agree with! But, then again, I actually WANT to do all of the things. I loaded my plate because I want them all. I am the crazy hoarder at the buffet, where my eyes are bigger than my stomach, because I am a mere human. I cannot have it all. I have to choose. The Choosing, I would say, is my nemesis.

So many articles tell us to schedule time to do nothing. We get a few hours a week (if you're lucky)? We wait for vacations and are happy with a couple weeks a year? Even two days, out of seven, a week (which we have personal chores and domestic duties)..? That's some bullshit. Who made these shitty ass rules? That is just not humane. That's not going to be good enough for me this year. I don't want to have to REMIND myself to JUST BE. I don't need permission. I will not feel guilty. I give myself full permission to JUST BE, for a fair amount, every day. I already go radio silent for days at a time. No social media. No more consuming. No more information. No more classes on this, that, and the other. No more podcasts or self-improvement. Take a mental break. I started meditating on my lunch break, which to me, at the beginning stage, means shutting everything down in my brain and listening to the birds, feeling the grass, the wind...

A while back, I heard an older man talking about his walks around his neighborhood in the fall, how beautiful it was and how much he loved it. He was pondering about how many more autumns he thinks he has left. He decided it had to be around seven. Holy shit, that gave me some perspective.

I will make more time to just enjoy. That's a damn good purpose too. Not everyone can do it, either. What if that is The Meaning? And by example, you show others how to do the same? That is the difference that you can make. 

This Happy Turtle is loving life.

Keep It Simple,

Lisa
 

"Boss Lady Brain"

Over sushi with a friend, I was recalling all the stupid shit I've done because I have so much going on in my head. It's like having five hundred and fifty tabs open on your computer at all times. That's what it feels like, in the head. So, instead of "pregnancy brain", this would be the correct term for entrepreneurs--and moms-- alike. My friend is both. I don't know how she does it.

"Boss Lady Brain". Because life is chaotic and that's how the remote control ends up in the freezer.

Being a boss lady, you are making decisions all day long. While you're working on one project, five hundred To Do's pop up in your head for other projects. Your day planner is full. No white space. Post it's are on top of post-it's, which are on top of your actual To Do list, because you have no more space to write. I have NINE organizational tools/planners (digital and old-school),  just for To Do's, in different areas of my business/life/artistic endeavors.  It's messy. 

Ambition is not a bad thing. Having a lot on your plate because of ambition is a good problem. Be grateful for this problem. It means you have passion(s), which is good, even if they all come with their own amount of stress.  But, "boss lady brain" is a signal. 

This is when you know you need to slow down: 

I have bought gas, got in my car, and drove for about a half hour before I realized that I never put the gas IN the car. 

I forget to eat.

I have gone to a meeting, locked my car with my keypad on my key-chain, then lost my keys somewhere in that building. This lead to hiring someone to make a key for my car on the spot, realizing everything on that key-chain that pointed to my address-- with my house key included!, changing locks, getting new business keys, and oh yea- my key to my fire-safe is now missing. I had to get my passport for my photography business on a quick deadline, and my birth certificate was in that fire safe. Not a relaxing week for me. 

Years ago, I was watching a movie with an ex-boyfriend. Because of the five hundred tabs open in my head, I had asked him to rewind the movie because I missed something. I was scolded. (Let me just say that I feel that most of the time I can be fully present when I am with loved ones because we all need that quality time. It is essential. I have things that I do to "turn off" and be fully present.) But sometimes, you open your email when you shouldn't. Sometimes, it takes just five more minutes to "turn off".  He called me flaky, ditsy, etc. Boss ladies aren't any of those things. They are warriors. They are Boss Ladies! It is an amazing superpower to be master of all the balls in the air. Boss ladies have three million more things on the brain at any given time than the average human. If we give way to "pregnancy brain" as understandable, we can have some compassionate understanding for these warriors too.

It is assumed that everyone knows how much it takes to run the back-end of a business, to being creative, or even being a mom. They don't. They don't know the million things that are on your plate to run your business life, your creative life, your social life, your spiritual life, your healthy life, your family life, your love life. No one truly knows but you. It can be frustrating and lonely when people just don't get it. 

(Just while writing this post, I had to write down three things to learn on newsletters and site design/marketing, and four To-Do's for my business.)

Then, add creativity on top of it! The artist's mind is moving even faster. I can be watching a movie, and hear something that would make a great drawing, or a great article, etc. It never stops. In conversations, in just taking a walk... It rudely interrupts, like a disrupting toddler pulling on your shirt, screaming "Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom!", that you simply cannot ignore. "Interrupting Toddler" is what I name my artistic inspirations. I am so grateful for them at the same time and I love that toddler. However, sometimes, it's such a gentle whisper and won't even finish the idea before it runs away. Those ones can't be re-called for the life of you, so you better have one of your nine tools with you to write it down before it vanishes into the black abyss. So, sometimes I have to hit rewind on the movie. But, that one minute that I took to write down an idea- that art piece was in two different art galleries this year- so I'm ok with that.

The key to "boss lady brain" is your own awareness. When you need to "turn off"-- to avoid burnout, including mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion. When you find yourself with "boss lady brain," it is a signal that you haven't taken time for yourself. This is not a luxury. It is essential. You can't give to others when you are depleted. The aim is to take time for yourself regularly, even schedule it, BEFORE the burnout hits. (So, when I  drive onto expressways by habit instead of where I'm actually headed, adding more time to my already crazy schedule, I know that I am already off and I'm headed into the danger zone of burnout.) "Mindfulness"- practice everyday. Find quiet time. Get in nature. Take a bath with calming music. Exercise. Yoga. Play with children. Meditate. Say a favorite quote to shush everything to healthy perspective. Bring yourself back to the present. SLOW DOWN

I never intended to mix my business with these blogs, but this case is different. I will be sending out ways to "Overcome the Overwhelm" in my photography newsletter. I find that it helps brides and grooms, mothers, and even seniors in high school. I will be sending out many helpful tools on this topic throughout the year. Even if you only have five minutes, there are things you can do to reset your "boss lady brain".  Even if you don't have five minutes- I will give you my favorite quotes to repeat to yourself. You are welcome to subscribe here.

What silly things have you done because you had "boss lady brain"? You are not alone. I get it.
What's the #1 thing that you do to slow down and "turn off"? 
Tell us in the comments below. 

Do you know an amazing boss lady? Please share this! 
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Have a Silly Monday,

Lisa