off to work (note to self)

I will try not to think about the hours

or count down the minutes.

If I need a rest, I will take one, whether it’s an actual break, a deep breath, or a gesture of

self-compassion.

If I need stimulation, I will seek it in a healthy way in the moment.

If I get bored, I will remember that it is my responsibility to engage an element of

interest.

If I encounter a challenge, I will trust myself and have confidence that I can handle it,

step by step.

If I want the day to be over already, I will bring my attention deeply into acceptance of

the present moment.

If the present moment contains discomfort, I will hold it and be with it rather than

push it away.

theater of the imagination

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players
-As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII

Maybe when you act, you’re not necessarily putting up a false facade.

Maybe you are exaggerating, for theatrical effect, parts of yourself that already exist.

You are a living, breathing hyperbole.

You don’t have to live a double life. It doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be simple, a matter of choosing which parts of yourself to emphasize and which to keep tucked behind the curtain, out of sight but still very much present.

Just because parts of yourself—the wild, loud, sensual, scandalous—are hidden, does not mean they don’t play a role. They are the ones working the pulleys, flicking the switches, turning on the lights and cueing the music.

They are the secret behind your radiance, the reason for the light behind your smile.

Your secret: it’s not your work that’s making you happy. It’s your inner world.

It’s so bright it radiates outward and colors all that you touch.

The mask may hide your true face, but it’s a beautiful mask, something you’re fond of wearing.

Like a magician employing distraction to great effect, you engage in emotional slight of hand. A light deception, nothing to be ashamed of—on the contrary, essential to survival.

It is merely a choice of where to train the spotlight.

Your workday then becomes a playful dance. Your uniform, your costume. Each movement a deliberate expression of your newfound awareness.

Give yourself permission to feel beautiful without regard to your reflection in the mirror. Say your lines, take a bow, and then go home.

Remember what happens when you screw up onstage? You improvise. You take that mistake and you run with it. The show must go on.

The trick is to keep your eyes up and out. The second you make eye contact with a member of the audience, boom, your dance, your lines are wiped clean from your memory. In day-to-day life, you can’t avoid making eye contact. But you can keep your chin up and your inner focus up and out. The woman behind the curtain keeps her gaze high and her inner eye trained on the horizon.

self-discipline vs. fun

How do you balance adulting with what you love to do?

If you’re like me, your immediate association to the phrase “self-discipline” is “ugh.” And yet I’ve learned that without self-discipline, life is just plain harder than it needs to be.

Self-discipline should never involve punishing yourself or denying yourself something you love. But it does mean doing things you don’t want to do.

You do those things because you value the outcome.

Short term pain, long term gain.

And the more you’ve practiced, the less “pain” every time you do it.

This quote puts it perfectly:

“Do something every day that you don’t want to do; this is the golden rule for acquiring the habit of doing your duty without pain.” -Mark Twain

With practice, you can beat resistance. Work smarter, not harder. Break tasks up into small chunks! If you hate doing dishes, set a timer for ten minutes. Or five. Whatever you can stomach.

If you’re dreading going to work, remember you only have to get through today. One day at a time. You’ll deal with tomorrow when tomorrow comes.

Fulfilling responsibilities (“adulting”) and having fun have a special relationship: each makes the other possible. If you don’t go to work, clean your house, or care for your body, you won’t be able to do what you love. The momentum you build getting the adult things done helps get the fun things done, and vice versa.

Remember: we all have to “adult” when we don’t feel like it, and nobody does it perfectly. But the more you can break tasks up, reward yourself, and remember why you’re doing them in the first place, the easier it gets. I promise.