You Just Do You

The short version of events is that I freaked out and took down my blog for about a week.

The longer version is slightly more complicated and it goes a little something like this: someone who I genuinely admire and whose opinion I greatly respect found out that I had a blog. Ok, maybe I accidentally let it slip. One thing lead to another which lead to a misunderstanding that made me think he was mocking my work, which really bummed me out. It made me doubt myself and the reasons I was writing in the first place. What was the point exactly? Who was I writing this blog for? If I felt reluctant to share it with people in real life, did that mean that somewhere deep inside I felt that it was worthless? Was I only invested for nostalgia’s sake?

So I took it down. I felt confused and lost. I told no one and nursed all of my secret little hurts inside of me. That is, until some people started to notice my blog was gone.

A lot of people voiced their dismay, but one friend was really honest. After listening to my reasoning she told me, “I get it, but that was kind of a dramatic thing to do.”

Defensive, I asked her why she cared anyway. She didn’t even read my blog. (To be fair, they aren’t really her thing.)

“I don’t read it all the time,” she admitted. “But it’s who you are. It’s so you. I see you all over it- your hard work. Your love. Who cares if I don’t read it? Why is that a reason not to follow your passion?”

I didn’t really have an answer to that and I still don’t. The best answer I could come up with was that there was no good reason. Are you going to stop eating sushi because someone else thinks raw fish is gross? Why give up something you love based on other people’s opinions? What bearing do they have on your life?

Eventually the misunderstanding was cleared up but I still felt conflicted about what to do. Was it a waste of my time? Should I try and improve the things the make me less proud of my work?

Then I remembered something a writer once told me about making the decision to write a book, despite having no formal training or connections in the publishing industry. I asked him how he ended up doing it. He shrugged and grinned. “I don’t know,” he said. “I just did it.”

And then I remembered why I blog- because I just do. Because I love to write. Because it’s a form of release. I write because I have to, because it’s a part of me, and not having that in my life was like losing the thread that wove all of the parts of myself into the fabric that makes up my being. Why would I let someone take that away from? Why would I take that away from myself?

So here I am to tell you that no one is allowed to criticize the things you love or make up the real you. Your passion will not always be the path to success but it will always be the path back to yourself. Do the things that bring you catharsis, that bring you joy. Do the things that allow you to express the real you. Let it out. Be free. Be weird. Dare.

My blog is not everyone’s cup of tea but it doesn’t matter; if you the love the things I love, maybe you’ll like it. Or maybe you won’t. I hope that you do but in the end there’s nothing that I could really change or do differently. This is who I am, not perfect, but the best version of my myself I can possibly be. I’m just doing me.

And you just do you.

Someday/Maybe

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I talk a lot about the business of keeping busy on my blog (hey, the word busy is even in the title) but once in awhile you deserve a time out. I’m here today to give you permission to do just that. After all, what is the point in figuring out the most productive way to get things done if you’re not using that free time to cultivate fun and actually live your life.

If you feel that some excitement has been missing from your life lately, you need to create a Someday/Maybe list, like immediately. The idea is not an original one- David Allen introduces this concept in his book Getting Things Done (which I reviewed here)- and uses the Someday/Maybe list as a place to capture future projects and business goals.

I took his idea one step further and created a Someday/Maybe list of all of the things I want to do, and learn, and explore throughout my life. Sure, some of these hopes may seem unrealistic. I might not even get around to them in this lifetime. But it’s still fun to dream.

What’s on your someday/maybe list? Here’s a list of some of the things that you may (or may not) wish to include:

  • books that you’d like to read; movies and TV shows to watch; new music you’d like to listen to;
  • hobbies that you’d like to try; hobbies you’d like to improve; abandoned hobbies that you’d like to take up again;
  • restaurants/food/recipes that you’d like to try;
  • shows, festivals and exhibits that you’d like to attend;
  • degrees, certificates, or certifications you’d like to earn; seminars, courses or workshops you’d like to attend;
  • new languages or skills you’d like to learn or improve
  • vacation destinations- complete with people to visit, things to do and places to stay.

I keep a copy of my Someday/Maybe list in my Command Central binder to refer back to and revise every so often. It serves as a great reminder as to why I do what I do in the first place and those days when things get a little too hectic it feels so refreshing to take a moment to read it, and dream. On paper, your life has no limits. It’s a beautiful and freeing thing.

KBwB-BFlower-50What’s on your Someday/Maybe list? I’m dying to know. Maybe we have something in common! Share your thoughts below or keep them between us by sending them to keepingbusywithb@gmail.com. Your dreams are safe with me!

Wanna take a little peek into what’s on my Someday/Maybe list? Check out my Goodreads profile for my ever-growing list of books that I want to read (which is basically, like, all the books.) I’m also a little bit of a Pinterest junkie. You can see what’s been catching my eye on one of my numerous inspiration boards here.

Book Review: Elizabeth Gilbert on Living Creatively

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Oh boy. Was I ever excited to read this book: not only is Elizabeth Gilbert one of my (living) literary girl crushes, but I couldn’t believe the amount of people who would come up to me, out of nowhere, and tell me how badly I needed to get my hands on a copy immediately.

Luckily- I found this book to be as advertised- a wonderful, inspirational read for virtually anyone looking to add a little bit of magic and creative whimsy to their otherwise busy, dissatisfying lives. Don’t believe me? Ask a friend of mine- let’s call her Wendy. It had been ages since I had seen Wendy so I was ecstatic to have the opportunity to catch up with her a few months back when she dropped by a local event that I had been hosting.

Things hadn’t been going so well for Wendy. She was one of those lucky girls who landed her dream job practically right out of college and had spent the last five years busy working her butt off climbing the corporate ladder when she swiftly and abruptly lost her job. It wasn’t her fault (the company was downsizing) but it was still a real blow to Wendy. For most of her young career she had worked steadily towards what she thought was a definitive goal she had some control over. Getting laid off made her feel adrift at sea, purposeless and uninspired until she picked up a copy of Big Magic.

What happened next to Wendy wasn’t unusual- after reading Gilbert’s manifesto on being creative and living fearlessly, she found the courage to pursue a passion project of her own and opened up an Etsy store. Although her prior job had been in a creative field, Wendy felt like she never had the freedom to put her own artistic touch on any of her work. Engaging in this kind of activity (making and selling things) was the spark she had been missing in her life, both personally and professionally. Even though when I met up with Wendy she was still unemployed, she confessed to me it was one of the first times she had felt fully satisfied with her life since she was an art student. Plus, she was making a few dollars on the side while she looked for a job. It seemed like a win-win situation, and Wendy was convinced it was thanks to the wisdom imparted in Big Magic.

It would be great to stop right here and tell you that Wendy went on to become a world-famous Etsy artist and made millions of dollars selling her wares because of Big Magic‘s advice, but I think what really happened after I saw Wendy was even more interesting.

Because neither of those things happened- Wendy still lives in the same modest (albeit beautiful) apartment and still lives the life of your average twenty-something. She’s still running her Etsy store, but by no means has she put all of her eggs in one basket because Wendy found a job. It’s less stressful and definitely less demanding than her previous job, and she thinks it’s great- having a steady job helps to pay the bills and the change of pace and environment has given her the breathing room to keep on doing what she loves in her spare time.

And that’s kind of the beauty of Big Magic- it’s not your typical “follow-your-dreams-and-make-your-doohickeys-it-will-make-a-lot-of-money-if-you-just-believe-in-yourself” self-help manual. Instead it’s more of a permission slip for those everywhere afraid to pursue their own interests, or explore what makes them excited or curious. It’s not a manual for how to do something creative with your life but instead a guide on how to live creatively.

Wendy knows this- she’s not interested in manufacturing her wares in a factory and shipping them worldwide. She relishes the slow thrill of her meticulous crafting process and the delight that each new customer brings. She’s happy to take a break from her creative work to focus on her professional work. For her, it’s enough.

Big Magic‘s biggest message, then, is the importance of making the room in your life to live it creatively, in whatever way you wish to interpret what creativity means to you. If it means creating for the sake of creation or exploring new interests, Gilbert wants you to go for it. (I do too, for that matter!) Maybe it won’t lead to your big break or a cushy bank account, but if it’s the only thing stopping you from living a happier, healthier, more satisfied life, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t start, like, immediately.

Whatever the change, big or small, Big Magic wants you to make the shift.

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Psst- wanna see which books have previously graced my bookshelves? Click here. Want even more fun reading recommendations? I’ve got some for you here. Don’t forget to find me on Goodreads so we can snoop each other’s bookshelves and dish about our favourites.