Hello. It’s a new month and a new season and whether it’s all the pollen in my eyes or the thoughts in my mind, but my life seems aflutter. I’m using this month to get back on track so you might see some new types of content popping up in this here blog. Notably things like the below. So here goes…
This morning I woke up more than a bit nostalgic. Nostalgic for a life I haven’t lived in a long time. I woke up with a familiar craving — my typical Sunday morning routine from years ago when I was living and working in Boston. I remember waking up, cooking some breakfast, picking up a copy of The New York Times and reading it for hours. I’d take the newspaper with me to the nearby park, and along with the grandmas and grandpas of my neighborhood, I’d sit on a park bench reading the paper all afternoon. I’d start with the news headlines, but would eventually find myself skipping over stories and making my way immediately to the NYT Magazine. I’d read that one nearly cover-to-cover. Maybe later in the day I’d have a picnic, or I’d go for a run around the nearby lake.
My Sundays were lazy but productive. I didn’t spend much money because I was saving for my big trip…but I always made sure I was doing things. I had a routine and I liked it. Then I took $20,000 and changed everything. Everything.
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Sometimes I wonder if taking my big trip around the world was the right thing to do. I left behind a life in Boston. And while I was coming to terms with my sexuality, I definitely abandoned some friends in the process. Eventually I even abandoned my city. Boston had been my home for seven years. It was where I became an adult, albeit slowly. And while I don’t regret my 15-month trip around the world, I do wonder what would’ve happened to my life otherwise. If I hadn’t taken all that money to spend on a trip around the world, where I be now? Would I have fallen in love with the world? Would I crave travel? Would I still be a book designer?
I don’t know what would’ve happened to my life had I stayed put. I’m certain there would’ve been changes, yes. Because I’ve always craved change. But where would I be? If I’d kept my 9 to 5, would I still be working regular business hours, taking (short) holidays and using my weekends and evenings for fun, rather than strategizing, writing, freelancing?
There’s no doubt I love my life today. But I can’t help but wonder if I’m on the right course. I love the flexibility of working my own hours, of owning my own business. My success is nearly 1:1 correlated to how hard I work. There’s a lot of excitement in knowing that. But then because I know this, I tend to work a lot. I spend too much time behind a glowing screen. I know this. But yet I can’t stop. I want to succeed on my own, and my success is dependent upon me working, working, working.
How does one force oneself to take evenings off from work, to take a break?
I get so many emails from people asking how they can do what I do. Those that want to travel the world, live the freelancer’s life. Make money and see the world. And while I like what I’m doing right now. I don’t know if it’s for everyone. I don’t know if it’s even a good idea. Is working 24/7 — even on something you passionately care about — healthy? Is it viable long-term?
I don’t know. But what I do know is about prioritizing. I’ve found that for the most important things in my life, making lists is how I deal with the stress, the worry, the planning. I make lists for everything. My to do lists regularly go unfinished, my life goals‘ lists are rarely completed 100%. But by writing down what I want, it helps me to solve at least some of the problems.
So, with that, I share with you here a little bit from my list of what I want from my past. The things we can all do to stay sane in an increasingly fragmented world.
The Little Things That Make Me Happy
Listening to new music
I used to regularly buy new music and seek out new bands (all part of that hipster thing). These days I spend more time looking for the newest blogs to read rather than the newest bands. New goal? Seek out more local bands rather than faraway blogs.
Reading contemporary authors
I worked for five years in a bookstore and used to read books almost religiously. Then while backpacking, I went through some books by the day. By. The. Day. These days I spend my time reading Gawker and Queerty all day, and then my evenings watching movies and addictive TV series.New goal? More time with my nose in a book (or my Kindle) rather than streaming HBO dramas.
Sleeping next to someone
Maybe it’s my fear of being alone, or that “fear of missing out,” but I’ve found life is just so much better with someone beside me.
Experimenting with cooking
Food is one of the top reasons why I travel. And besides eating, cooking is one of my favorite pastimes. I’m certainly not a culinary master, but I do love playing around in the kitchen. When I worked a 9 to 5, I would often leave work and head straight to the grocery store on my way home. I’d pick up some food and then spend my evening cooking with a half-open bottle of wine. And this summer I plan to start that up all over again.
Shopping for clothes
There was a time when I wanted nothing more than to shed my possessions. I embraced the idea of minimalism and gave up much of my stuff. But now I have a home again and while I travel frequently, I still love to come to my home. When working 9 to 5, I’d estimate that my expendable income was evenly split between new clothes and new music. These days all my expendable income just goes into savings or back into my travel fund. New goal: spoil myself when I can.
One of my favorite reasons for traveling has always been to visit friends and family. But looking back at my past several trips, they’ve almost exclusively been for other reasons. All reasons are valid, actually, but I seem to have lost sight of one of the most personal and meaningful reasons for travel: visiting loved ones. It’s one of my things to do before turning 30 and yet I haven’t taken a single trip for that purpose since I wrote that blog. Uh-oh. New goal: book a trip home ASAP!
Time away from computer screens
Ah this old goal…. I’ve occasionally managed to step away from my iPhone for hours at a time but I still haven’t mastered the art of disconnection. This is a tricky thing because it’s not just about giving up the access, but wanting to give up the access. (And managing to not think about the Internet while you’re doing it…) Summer means more time outside and longer days, so with my phone battery dying more and more regularly, giving up my iPhone screentime shouldn’t be a problem. It’s giving up that itching thought that I should be online, I should be working right now. Sometimes time for yourself is the hardest thing to find. But I’ll keep looking.