Examining Myself Today a la Style de David Evans and Bill Burnett’s Designing Your Life

Health:
Physically, I’m in pretty good shape. I’ve been trying to work out almost every other day, and it really helps me wash out the negativity and the mind wormholes I get into pretty often as someone with a head that has trouble not thinking. While being in shape is important, the need to exercise for me I feel comes mostly from the endorphins and relaxation (rewards!) I feel from getting an engaging workout in and having it demand all my physical and mental attention. It quiets my thoughts, and I really love that.
Food wise, I haven’t been eating healthily and I need to change that. I’m pretty tired from work most of the time, so I need to make sure I’m not eating foods that support lethargy or a weakening of the immune system.
I’m also struggling a lot with memory. Short term and some long term memories are really joggy and it’s getting concerning. At first I thought it was because I’m all over the place, and I’m just someone who needs to implement check lists, plan and such in very concrete, written ways. But I’m beginning to think it’s not just that. I keep forgetting things at an alarming frequency. Something to address and commit to going to a doctor for before it gets worse.
Physically also, I’ve been exploiting my youth by running on a bad foot for a while. The fractures keep recurring, the pain never goes away, and yet I’m still running. A conversation with a physical therapist last weekend really woke me up because she warned me that while my body is giving me all it’s got now, it won’t ever do that as I age, and that this could quadruple into a really serious issue if I’m not proactive and don’t make the decision to stop running as I’ve avoided so now. It hurts my young self: my passion and love for the rush of BREEZE I feel when running, experiencing nature at that kind of speed, and my pride as a 26 year old woman, but I need to work on being okay with stopping.
Work:
Work is pretty intense. I’m realizing more and more in hindsight that there were and are parts that are more intense and hard for me, as I’m still struggling a bit with resisting the unbalance that comes with being entrepreneurial. I kept fighting it. and I’m starting to come to terms with the fact that I’m supposed to be sitting alongside the minion that is crazy startup life and embracing it. Not all of it, but some of it. And that my understanding and personal definition of what it means to be “balanced” is a little rigid and maybe open to revision. It’s crazy hilarious and exasperating just how much I’m resisting the startup life. It’s perhaps very foolish of me. A developing thought, and not a belief yet, but sharing nonetheless. Business this early stage is also not going well at any point in time, and as a small company it’s hard to take the gains and losses of the company at arm’s length. Everything hits me.
I need to mentally be there, in that everything I am doing is understood [by me] that it was the best I could do at every given moment, with the best interests in mind and that I need to be better at bouncing back, being more openminded, and adapting even more so when the variables and circumstance change around me.
In terms of network and and professional life, things are going really great. I’m coming into my own as a professional and as an individual who is really curious, has a lot of things to say and craves deep connection. I’m continuously building upon and defining this multi-faceted, yet-to-be-determined creature that is my public self. I’ve been freelance modeling, started lecturing as a guest lecturer at NYU, consulted a few consumer brands, and advocating for mental health & my main work, ATEM. Life is very good on that front, and it’s amazing being part of a new tribe that’s full of many beautiful, bright, and well-meaning people, and thick in with the entrepreneurial, founder, business-women & men community.
Love:
The love is great. Not without some bumps and minefields thrown onto the plane I live in, but man is it great:
My love for God is amazing right now and rising.
My family, as colorful as our dynamics are, is trending up in the most beautiful, and wholesome ways I’ve never seen!
My romantic experiences, while colorful [in part to my overthinking myself], have been wonderful in their own ways, and I’m growing and learning more about myself: exploring the good sides, examining the needing improvement sides, and am interfacing and growing to know, see and share in the promise of love with someone that I believe and am grateful I have such a natural connection to.
Friendships are great. I’ve really seen this arena defining itself in the past 2 years and friendships are sifting and solidifying in their places as I feel they should be. There is the constant influx of new and old characters of course, and navigating that and my changing feelings and our changing positions is sometimes verging on the disorienting (hello people pleaser Susan, but short on time and life Susan), but this sphere’s developed into something that’s very much a solid ecosystem of peoples that are very loving and awesome and just solid, solid, lovable, trustworthy friends.
Play:
Play for me from experience (and I only have twenty-some years of this thing, experience) is doing or seeing something very creative or emotionally provocative.
That usually means for me seeing art, going to see an opera, being in some very high-nature habitat, maybe going horse riding? (it’s on my bucket list, I’ve never done it!!).
Reading is for certain for pleasure, but most recently I’ve been reading a lot to learn with the intention of helping myself develop as a professional and in more public facing contexts, and I’ve not honestly been allowing myself to pick up much reading for sheer “valueless” (whatever that means) pleasure . Learning though is a direct pleasure channel for me, so this is a little murky. I love to read to learn. But I suppose the topics I would be reading on would slightly change if I was only reading this past season for sheer pleasure. I would be less focused [by my nature] in my choice of subject matter, and would be reading anything from surfing, to horseriding, to vinoculture, to wines in Paso Robles, to the history of an art I have my eyes newly fixed on, to reading on photography, to reading on sculpture making, to reading all the books I have in my personal reading to do list, and rereading Jane Austen on replay over, and over, and over again.
As Bill Burnett and Dave Evans define it in Designing Your Life, play eliminates any and all consideration of “work” that is colored even with a drop of something that is not pure joy:
“Play is all about joy. If you observe children at play, you will see the type of play we are talking about. Play is any activity that brings you joy when you do it. It can certainly include organized activity or competition or productive endeavors, but when those things are done, “for the joy of it” they are play. When an activity is done to win, to advance, to achieve– even if it’s fun to do so– it’s not play. It may be a wonderful thing, but it’s still not play. The question here is what brings you joy purely in the doing.”
While work has required me to pull down on the play, I’ve managed to stay really committed to a really concentrated number of “play” activities I consider my top most priorities and most consistent sources for sheer Susan joy: reading, nature, and art 🙂
In an ideal world, I’d like to have even more leisure to explore more and see if other play activities would actually bring me more pleasure, but unfortunately exploration does require new commitment and more time allocated to things that are uncertain and at best to be determined in their joy-value adds in my life.  At least for now 🙂 And that’s okay.

Little Practices That Improve My Mental Health

  1. Take the time to tie my shoelaces before slipping my feet into my shoes, instead of slipping them or cramming them in using my thumbs to open up the foot hole.
  2. Manually uninstall Instagram for a couple hours to a full day. I do this regularly to encourage a keeping of healthy, controlled Instagram use. Because I love Instagram! And it’s very apparent to me that I can become addicted to it. It’s like other medias, and I worry that there are others don’t see it as such. Imagine if you were in your 20s watching 4 hours + TV a day and also not sleeping from it. This is a value based opinion, so I’m not suggesting someone is wrong by doing that (and maybe you’re the kind of person who can do everything in 24h and still feel really good with little sleep, etc!). I’m just saying I personally don’t want to watch 4 hours of TV a day as a working woman who has limited leisure time, when I can be using that time to do something like being present with people I love or reading or taking my sleep or what have you.
  3. Like homework, and regardless of how awesome I’m feeling, look up at the sky once after work to remind myself in good AND bad circumstances just how vast, strange, and beautiful the world is and just how small, I, my circumstances, my colleagues and my businesses and all the things like that are in contrast. It gives me added perspective when I don’t need it ( who will complain about that), and that way I have perspective when I do. Perspective that’s built into me like a layer of mental armor.
  4. Go to the gym even when I feel like THE LAST THING I WANT TO DO IS GO TO THE GYM and time is just ticking away and it’s approaching 11pm (the closing time for my gym, I go to Equinox) and even when there’s less than an hour left for me to take my bum off my bed because I literally had rather-ed killing time on my bed scrolling on my phone for an hour instead of going. And somehow, I finally just go. Even it’s for clocking in’s sake and I really can’t handle lifting a weight (because I’m lazy or moody or whatever). I go.
  5. Verbally or mentally ask myself how I am feeling every day to check in on myself. Really check in on my self. Meta, I know. But we’re always pressured to be productive, go zoom zoom zoom, and think while we move etc etc,– I mean how can that encourage positive, smart, reflective thinking in many people? It doesn’t for me. I also started asking this of people I care about instead of saying “how was your day?” when I inquire after them. I find I can get to the source of the things I ultimately care about by asking “how are you,” or “how are you doing,” or “how are you feeling”, instead of asking how was your day? Because with how was your day, someone can just list everything that happened without mentioning once that they’re not doing okay emotionally.
  6. Pray. I pray diligently for all the great things in my life, and am also honest in prayer with the things that are not going in my life, internally or externally. By facing those truths every day and during it as frequently and regularly as I can, I stay away from the threat of encouraging and welcoming untruths or narratives that will contaminate the thoughts of my head and the understandings of my heart.
  7. Reflect, often, often, often. Particularly in regards to my interpersonal relationships. While I do know I have a disposition for thinking in excess, I do think _THINKING_ done in moderation is healthy; I revisit [a little too often perhaps, I don’t know] whether I have any rotten branches (people or things) currently chilling out in my life– this I do very often, like weekly homework. Particular emphasis on people evaluation for me. I am fortunately aware of myself, and I know I immediately engage at a deep emotional level with literally anyone who enters my life and as a conversation with me by even 1 degree. I kind of just open-door myself once I let a new acquaintance in (which can be good, and also bad). I don’t do that “let’s leave the door slightly ajar and stay emotionally aloof internally and then open it 90 degrees” thing. So, when someone negative enters my life, it does make an impact somewhere in my life and my overall wellbeing, even if it doesn’t reflect immediately in the mental compartment.
  8. I eat with intention, which visually manifests itself with me eating more slowly than I naturally would prefer.
  9. I also practice sharing with individuals I trust or have identified have a certain level of authority in wisdom over me on x, y, or z. Sharing is a way to share in my pain and joy with others, but it also helps me 1. measure my life and my thoughts more accurately because there are people that are not experiencing whatever is going on in my head or my heart, which means they can give objective feedback on what I am feeling or experiencing, and also act as mirrors when/if I ever reach the point when I can not perceive things clearly and I am skewing experiences, messages, everything.. and it 2) holds me accountable in the healthy desire to always want to be working on getting to that “the better place”.
  10. Self care, mental health self-care, emotional self-care never stops. There is no ceiling, or at least I haven’t found it and I am a pretty! happy person right now. 🙂

Take care yourself. So you can give proper love to others, so you can give proper love to yourself. How can you love thy neighbor as yourself if you don’t know how to do it yourself? Is the question I ask myself.

 

xSoo