The Power of Having a Thing

The Power of Having a Thing

It’s no secret that in the past, I struggled with working and doing my thing. (My thing being writing, blogging, podcasting, making videos, and other “things.”) Now that I have my favorite day job ever, it’s not the struggle it was at jobs I didn’t like, but there will always be that want for doing the things I love more than anything…even more than my job. For me, though, having a day job I love helps me do my thing without concern…and because I can do my thing without concern, I value my day job more than ever.

This sometimes leads to moments when someone at my day job sees me accept something they would not accept.

“You’re seriously gonna let that slide?!” they say. And my answer is, “Yes — that does not bother me as much as it bothers many others.”

Someone wanting more control at my day job is not reason to bristle because…I have my things…

The Things!

Every week on a podcast I do, my partner and I close with the motto: “Chill the fuck out, and make the damn thing!” By this, we mean, “Don’t get so caught up in every little thing that it steals from you the ability to do at least one thing you love!” (More about our motto, here.)

My big things:

  • Writing
  • Juggling
  • Podcasting

Of these, writing and juggling are wholly mine — meaning nobody else has a say in what I do with these two things I love. (In the case of Men in Gorilla Suits, Shawn and I flip-flop, letting each other run the show every other week. It works very well, and it keeps us on our toes!)

The Power of Having a Thing

Having something that is wholly mine means when someone at work wants to control something, I can let it go. Same thing in many facets of life.

I see so many people tired because they try to control everything around them; they turn little things into full-scale battles rivaling a crusade. It looks so exhausting and often comes with anger.

It’s amazing the hours lost at old jobs when I’ve seen people arguing about applying punctuation to bullet points, or even people fuming about using Oxford commas or not. Now, I will defend the Oxford comma to the end, but when I’ve written newspaper articles — AP Style — I’ve had no problem not using them. It’s style, and I’ll write the way I’m paid to write. (“Tildes instead of bullets, and two commas after each point with and/or and then a period at the final point? Sure — check, please!”)

Some people, though, spend their dinners complaining about these things to significant others who don’t care. Somewhere this evening, a kid will beg:

Daddy, not the bullet point rage again…

Have a Thing

This is where having a thing matters.

When all around me people are drawing sides and demanding blood over something as small as a punctuation argument that can go either way (Oxford commas), I’m waiting for the issue to be settled so I can write to a style guide…and then go home and write what I want, the way I want — all that other stuff be damned!

Body of Work II

Body of Work II

I’ve talked before about creating a body of work before (even used an image of piled wood to make the point). In fact, that post was in honor of the 25th episode of the Men in Gorilla Suits podcast. Today marks Episode 53 — our one-year anniversary!

Whether hit with overtime at work, sick, busy with other things that come with living life, or even just wanting a weekend or two off, we produced a weekly show for a year — never skipping a week! Looking at the Podcasts page of the site really is a bit like looking at a pile of stacked wood. Everything said in that first blog post about creating a body of work is true: sticking with something regularly results in the ability to look back and see a big pile of work you created!

In this case, it’s a weekly podcast, but it’s not much different than restoring a car over time, creating illustrations or paintings, or piling up pages of a book. The formula is simple:

Effort + Time = Body of Work

Speaking of Books…

The last time I posted, here, was to announce that I was taking a break from social media, and even slowing down with blogs. I wanted even better focus and clarity in the work I do. It did not take long to find both. With the focus of really getting back to the novel-in-progress, I was able to see that the book I’m writing is really three books. So instead of one big book about June’s life and rise to fame as a magician, it will be several books about June’s life — and that excites me more than I’ve ever been excited about anything I’ve written.

For the sake of word count in a single novel, there were things I wanted to stick with longer, but had to move on to other things to avoid a ridiculously large book. June is born in a circus, and circus life lasts only three chapters in what I was doing. I’m now able to spend more time in the places that shape June as she grows into a young woman on her own by the end of what is now the first book of three.

In all the years I’ve been writing, I’ve never enjoyed it more…

The Benefits of Saying No

The Benefits of Saying No

In a recent post, I mentioned near the end that saying yes and taking chances on things can be great.

So can saying no.

Time Management Made Easy

So many people complain about not having time. Their days are filled with work, appointments, social media and TV to catch up on, and even — sometimes — doing something a bit out of the ordinary.

Sleep deprivation is not uncommon as people rush to do all the things they feel they must do. The thing is, most of us really don’t have to do all the things we’ve convinced ourselves we must do.

The best way to claim time you feel has slipped away is to say no!

This is What I Mean

Recently, a couple people have asked me to take part in doing things with them. Things I enjoy doing: writing! But…I made a decision to spend the next year focused only on the content I create for myself. Outside of the writing I do for my day job, I will say no to anything that is not mine. By doing so, I’m not adding to the pile of stuff I’m comfortable doing and becoming stressed as I try to manage more than I should take on.

Maybe by the end of the year, something I say no to will be a big thing and I’ll kick myself for not jumping on at the start. (I think that’s why most people say yes to so many things: that hope of something bigger happening.) I’m turning away helping organize a conference and some writing to focus on my own stuff — exclusively — for a year.

I suspect that what I reap in 2014 while focusing on my own work will mean more to me than money and maybe a wider audience by saying yes to others and helping them with their projects.

Maybe It’s Different With You

Maybe saying no to projects isn’t a thing for you because you don’t jump into projects outside of work at all. But I bet saying no to things can still give you back some much needed time. Saying no to a TV show or two, or no to keeping up with Facebook or Candy Crush can go a long way to having time to actually relax. Not every moment of the day must be filled — saying no to the urge to never be alone with your thoughts is a huge step toward stress relief. Saying no to keeping your kids on the go every waking moment not only gives you time, but it gives them time early in life to appreciate time spent being quiet so they’re not as likely to be stressed as they get older.

If I asked you if you wanted even one or two hours totally to yourself each week, I bet you’d say yes…and the way to get there just might be by saying no…

The Jar of Precious Seconds

The Jar of Precious Seconds

I’m in touch with a great friend on an almost daily basis. We talk about what’s up in our lives, writing, ideas for things…whatever comes to mind.

I’m lucky to have this friend. It’s a rare thing when a couple days go by that I’m not reminded that I have a goal to write daily, or that I have other things I want to do. These are the things we talk about, and because of that, it’s rare for a couple days to pass without stepping back and appreciating the effort I’ve made in my life to use my time wisely.

The Jar of Precious Seconds

When my friend and I talk about the stresses in life we choose to ignore, we say, “I can’t let that steal my seconds,” or “I’m not opening my jar for that.” We know what the other is talking about. The Jar is a metaphor for the time we have before we die — each second of our lives.

This friend and I don’t believe in an afterlife; our time right now is all we have. Outside of the things that come with being an adult (day jobs, maintaining homes and cars…things like that), we get to choose how those seconds are used.

The Empty Jar

There will come a day when the jar is empty of these precious seconds. It could happen before I finish writing this entry…it could happen in so many more years. But…there will be a day that my time runs out. It’s not that I weigh everything in my life against every option, but…when I die — when my Jar of Precious Seconds is empty — I want the majority of those free seconds to have mattered.

I don’t want to look back and think, “Man, I spent a lot of time arguing online with people I didn’t even respect.” I don’t want to look back on all the television I watched. I don’t want to think of all the time listening to people say really crappy things about other people, instead of talking about bigger things.

Seconds Ticking Down

We all get to decide what we want to do with our seconds, and if getting drunk and playing video games is what you want to do as much as I want to write novels, that’s cool. I just hope people understand that it goes both ways: I’d rather write this entry after working on a novel for 35 minutes on a Sunday night instead of watching Breaking Bad. I’m sure I’d love Breaking Bad, but without ever watching an episode, I know I like writing or going for a walk with my wife even more.

So that’s what I do with my seconds…

The Power of One Second

There will be a second in my life when I take my last breath. I was there when my father took his last breath (I was 22). I was there when my sister took her last breath (I was 33). Just like that, a life ends.

But until that second comes, we all have so many seconds at our disposal.

It’s a powerful life when you realize that most of us are fortunate enough to be in control of what we do with the majority of those seconds. Why people don’t do more with them is none of my business. I can only choose to spend my seconds as I see fit.