Another wild and crazy day at World Domination Summit!
The first thing that happened is that I followed through on my dare from Michael Guillebeau.
I’ll tell the truth. I went to the event where David Fugate the literary agent was speaking, and took a ton of notes, and then at the end I had about a 50/50 mental split between DO IT NOW and WEASEL OUT THE DOOR CONVINCING MYSELF I’LL DO IT LATER.
Then Guillebeau popped out and caught me!
I stood in line and waited, and what they say about “my heart was hammering in my chest” is physically true. By the time I got my chance to speak, my legs were shaking and my stomach was rolling.
I did it, though. I made my pitch.
David Fugate said, “Tell Mike Guillebeau it was a success.”
SO THAT HAPPENED
Then I went to another book-related event, followed by
and then we went to the picnic.
Somehow or other, I wound up hornswoggled into participating in some street magic. My friend guided me across the park, and who should be there? None other than Nate Staniforth!
I completely wigged out, telling him how much I loved his book Here is Real Magic.
He pulled an ink stamp off his arm, threw it at me through thin air, and suddenly an ink stamp appeared on my arm.
COME ON, I said, as one does. If it had happened to someone else I wouldn’t have believed it.
I got magicked on.
This is more or less routine WDS.
We’re about to go in for the main stage event, so that’s it for today. As for you?
Go out there and look for some magic!
This is a story about all the important things:
Showing up for things, even when you don’t feel like it
Talking to people, even when you feel awkward
Telling the truth about your life
Leaping before you feel ready
Doing the Obvious
We went to the opening party. I felt moody and cross and out of sorts, partly because of the weather and partly because I had made a dumb mistake and missed an event I had been really excited about.
Honestly I was being my Worst Self, not my Best Self. Judging myself for being sloppy and disorganized, which I’m not. Feeling shy and not wanting to approach people. Hiding out in a corner instead of going out and making friends.
Suddenly, there appeared a gentleman with a name tag bearing a fairly uncommon name. I asked him, “Are you related to Chris?”
“Chris who?” he said.
I won’t share all the details of my conversation with this fascinating and funny man, because it was personal and because I want to hog it all to myself. It was transformative for me, though. Not only did his kind attention completely turn around my mood, his advice definitely changed my event and may have changed my life.
I like asking other people about themselves. It’s usually an effective trick for avoiding talking about yourself. It’s a great way to get to know people, draw out fascinating stories, and also pick up book recommendations, travel tips, recipes, life hacks, etc. They win because they get an attentive listener and I win because I can keep it light.
There was no thought in my mind about my book proposal, because I’d scheduled it for July through December this year.
How did we even wind up talking about my book?
Oh, yes, probably because Mike Guilleabeau is an award-winning published author! Multiple awards, I might add. He has writer’s radar.
He drew me out about my potential book and told me I should develop it. Well, sure, yeah, that’s the plan, sometime a million years from now!
More specifically, I should sit up and write a logline, work it into a 30-second pitch, and deliver it to a specific person at a specific time slot.
The person: Literary agent David Fugate, who is attending WDS
The time slot: A “lunch and learn” at noon (15 hours away)
I should practice by approaching three people I don’t know and asking if they would critique my pitch.
This is smart advice, okay. I know this. It’s entirely actionable and NOT SCARY AT ALL, oh no, cough cough, and further, it will probably work.
I know how to give a brief pitch. That’s exactly why I joined Toastmasters 3 1/2 years ago. Evaluations are part of the package, something we’re trained to seek out and receive with keen interest. In fact I win ribbons for impromptu speaking and one-minute speeches all the time.
I know everything about my book, too. I’ve written 180 pages of it and spent years thinking and talking about the topic.
I even approached David Fugate last year and asked, heart in my throat, “Would you publish a book about minimalism?”
Sure, he said.
I know the drill. Write up a proposal and email it in. It will get looked at.
This isn’t a case of not knowing what to do. It isn’t a case of laziness or lack of organization. It’s a case of nerves. It’s a case of putting off for later what feels intimidating to do today.
How you do one thing is how you do everything. The reason you give for not doing something is the same thing that will hold you back everywhere. It’s mind-boggling how often that thing is talking yourself out of going for the thing you want the most.
Too old, too young
Not right now
Not until I can do it perfectly!
The focus and energy we give to eating a donut or a taco is available for planning and tackling a dream project, one bite at a time.
The trouble with my book proposal is that it’s one among many. Not other people’s book proposals - those are no threat to me, because what else would I read if other people quit publishing their books? My book is one of several that *I* plan to write. They exist in my mind as their own independent entities.
If I do one, won’t I then have to do them all? THEN WHAT?
What I have to tell myself, what you should tell yourself too, is that other people deserve a chance to appreciate your work. Why hold back? Someone out there is waiting on it. Waiting to be moved or entertained or challenged.
I think of my own reaction to other people’s work. I think of myself dancing around in the aisle at the bookstore or squealing with delight because one of my favorite authors has a new book coming out. I think of my friends who wait in line for hours to buy concert tickets or movie tickets or a new book or game. We’re hungry for fresh stories and talent in a way that we aren’t for anything else.
Who am I to deny this call?
I have no good reasons whatsoever to pass on Mike Guileabeau’s dare. The worst-case scenario is that I waste thirty seconds of four people’s time, and I can do that in so many other ways!
Just think of all the time in my life that I’ve wasted already, dithering and waffling and hemming and hawing.
I’m going to do it. I’m going to do this thing because if I don’t, I’m a welsher. I’m going to do it because I’ve made a public commitment. If I could finish the marathon by dragging my leg the last eight miles, certainly I can make a 30-second pitch to a man whose livelihood it is to evaluate this kind of pitch.
Okay, now your turn. I dare ya.
My first day at WDS, “all I did” was check in to my hotel, register, and go to one meetup. Then, thunderbolt from the blue, I made an instant friend!
Kismet doesn’t usually happen at your house. It happens when you get up and go somewhere where there are other people, preferably on a similar wavelength. This is the best reason to go to conferences and workshops.
The kismet thing is even funnier from my new friend’s perspective. Just the night before, she spontaneously went to an event, where she met a workshop facilitator, and then had the bright idea to go to this person’s next event. We happened to sit next to each other. From the moment we started talking, we felt an unusually strong connection.
Two days ago, I was already in town, already packed, already registered, my annual lightning-bolt disruption experience carefully planned. This is my fourth year, and I bring fully formed expectations of making fabulous new friends and having life-altering conversations.
I’m, you might say, a ringer.
My friend, though, two days ago she was just living her life. Suddenly she stumbled down the rabbit hole, not even having heard of this event going on across the street from her office.
Are you hearing this? Are you??
These types of encounters are available to you the moment you disrupt your routine. Go somewhere new and different, introduce yourself to strangers, be open to new ideas and new conversations. Maybe even across the street from your building?
The workshop itself, the meetup, I should tell you about this because it was excellent.
Marli Williams. Check her out. She’s a genius and she changes lives so often that she may be sorta kinda taking it for granted.
This particular meetup was called: “How to Be an EPIC Facilitator Who Changes Lives.” A lot of us had *aha!* reactions to the concept of facilitating rather than teaching. I took vigorous notes and already feel like I have had a major perceptual shift around facilitating meetings and events.
Picture the room. It’s literally standing-room only. A few people standing in the back could sit on the floor if they chose, but honestly there is so much energy in the space that one would find it hard to remain seated.
Every person present is there for an extremely specific message, which is how to be a leader and change lives. See that this attracts a very particular type of person and a certain mindset.
The more specific you can get when you are dialing in to a new friend wavelength, the easier the click will be.
Pull back a moment. What if I had sat next to someone else? Was there another person in the room (or more than one) who might also have felt like an instant friend?
The point is to set aside the time, to be open to the possibility, to make room for friendship. It feels like people used to be better about this, about having long timeless evenings of conversation and laughter. On a weeknight!
Everyone got ready to go. We turned to each other.
“Do you want to go somewhere? Like, now?”
“What do you want to do?”
We wound up drinking tea and bogarting a booth in a bar for, what, three hours? Exchanging life stories and talking about every single thing ever.
Have you ever been swept away and smitten by a new friend? When was the last time?
This is something I want for the world, and also the reason I’m interested in event planning and facilitating workshops in the first place. If I could lead a discussion and have it end with new friends walking out the door together, I’d die happy. Probably even if it only happened once!
Friendship. Out of all things, isn’t it something the world could use a lot more of?
When I went to my first World Domination Summit, I was lit up and inspired by the academies and the keynote speakers. I took pages and pages of notes and felt a serious case of FoMO about all the times I couldn’t be in three places at once.
With each year that’s gone by, I’ve felt more like I’m here for the people I will meet, and that the event content is more of a side attraction. Oh, yes, this person has published a book / runs an annual event / has a website / has a podcast and I can catch up later. But ***this person*** will only cross my path for two hours unless I do something drastic
Like get vulnerable and reach out and say
“Hey, I like you”
“Do you want to go somewhere? So we can talk more?”
Sometimes people say “sure” and then they talk themselves out of it later. That’s because most of our interaction with other people is via alphabet letters these days. Or memes or emojis, but... We aren’t doing much, culturally, about sitting across from each other and listening intently and making a magical conversation bubble.
Face to face, voice to voice, laughing in stereo.
As I write about this, as I get very worked up about the power of friendship, I start picturing all my older friendships. I have not been present for my old friends lately and I feel sad and full of fails about that. Then I think, that is not friendship. No real friend would want someone to associate guilt or sadness or failure with that friendship! Right?
That’s my call to action here. Reach out to someone, someone you like. Make a new friend, step closer to an acquaintance, call up someone you haven’t talked to in a while. Say hi, tell them why you’re thinking about them.
I told the waitress for our section that we had just met and we felt like we’d been friends for twenty years. I told her she should watch for who sat in our booth next, and see if it looked like they had picked up on that vibe. Maybe her curiosity and expectation will influence the next party to sit there. Maybe they’ll have a crazy amount of fun and have no idea why!
Maybe it will be you and your friend?
Maybe I can carry that feeling into the next workshop I lead. Maybe I can, maybe anyone can, create a space where people feel like friends are all around them, waiting to be made.
It’s that time of year again! I’m in town for the World Domination Summit, which is once again sold out. I’ve got party costumes, I’ve got a new day planner, I’ve got exciting plans and a big bushel of anticipation. This has been the event around which I plan everything I do for several years now, and I’m making the most of it.
There’s a lot to be said for using the middle of the year as a planning break. One of the reasons that so many people bag on New Year’s Resolutions is that there’s no built-in checkpoint until the following New Year’s Eve. Another is that a lot of people would rather do nothing at all than be perceived as following a trend. Yet another is that there seems to be a sense that resolutions are about self-deprivation or joyless discipline. There’s also the problem that winter is bogus in and of itself.
I choose to frame it differently. This is my life, and thus it’s also my year. I want to fill every year with awesome things. If I don’t take steps to fit in my own plans, my time will be filled with other people’s priorities. All I will wind up doing is work, chores, errands, consumption of passive entertainment, news outrage, and listening to other people vent. Oh, and gaining five pounds, mustn’t forget that.
This is why I step away and why I do quarterly check-ins, which I could do even if there were no such thing as WDS and even if I had no vacation time and even if I couldn’t go anywhere. Anyone can still pause for breath and a moment to ask, Is this what I really want to be doing with my one wild and precious life? Is all this working for me? Do I have any better ideas?
It helps, of course, to be surrounded by a few thousand people who are doing the same thing. It helps to run around making new friends, taking classes, and listening to inspirational speakers.
It helps to ask, what would this look like if it were fun?
(What if the focus of my budget was travel or retiring early?)
(What if my workout involved hula hoop tricks or acrobatics?)
(What if I really could dye my hair in rainbow streaks and get away with it?)
The first year my husband and I signed up for WDS, it changed our life. We went home, got rid of 80% of our stuff, sold our car, and moved to the beach. We started saving half our income. My husband is working on his fourth patent and I’m about to file the final paperwork to become a Distinguished Toastmaster.
Throughout the year, I think to myself, what am I going to have to say for myself at WDS next year? When people ask me what I do, or what I got out of the event, what am I going to tell them?
This is challenging for me in a lot of ways, because I’m a shy person and I don’t really like to talk about myself. Icebreaker exercises are hard for me and I tend to get vapor-locked. “What is something interesting about you?” “Uhhhhh....” Who would want that in their eulogy, though?
One of the many possible motives for leading a more awesome life is that it proves to other people that it can be done. You don’t need permission. You can change jobs, move, make new friends, set new boundaries in your relationships, change your appearance, and even change your mind, your industry, or the world itself. You can learn new things. You can, in point of fact, change anything you want, and you can do it with delight and intrigue.
Now pardon me, I’m off to playland. Go out and dominate!
“Happy families are all alike,” claims Tolstoy, and it’s fair to say that organized people are all alike as well. Chaos, though, is personal.
This is the fascinating thing about working with the chronically disorganized. Their living and work spaces may have a lot in common, as far as the stacks and piles and dust. But the reasons they have for letting things get to that state are all distinctly individual.
The family with small kids and the confirmed bachelor. The teenager and the retired lady. They are only alike in that they can’t figure out what to do about their personal chaos.
You’d think, from all those squalor-sploitation reality TV shows, that all my people make the same mess. They don’t, though. Most of my people are not true hoarders, even though they think they are. They’ll cheerfully get rid of truckloads of stuff and never look back. They just need someone there to help them figure out what to keep and why.
There are usually isolated islands of calm amidst the chaos.
The one who owns a carefully curated capsule wardrobe with plenty of space between hangers
The one who keeps an immaculate living room
The one who is always photoshoot-ready (outside the home, anyway)
The one who lets go of hundreds of books but keeps expired food
Chaos is personal because stories are personal. We live the way we do because we’ve internalized messages about how the world works. We explain things to ourselves, or memorize the way others have explained them. Sometimes we even talk to ourselves, convincing ourselves all over again, in the sense of “how dare they!”
The one who had more stuff than any of my other clients, but somehow managed to keep a nice living room: I want it to look good when my friends come over.
The one whose hair, makeup, and wardrobe are always on point: I could never let myself go.
The one who hoards food but not books: I already read that and now it can go to someone else.
That one is fascinating because it posits that books are consumable, that they come and go, but that food belongs to some kind of longterm storehouse. It’s perfectly fine to read a $25 book once and then donate it, but it is never okay to throw away a five-year-old bag of pasta that cost $1.99.
In my fantasies, the ones I indulge when I’m working through a particularly gross and smelly forgotten area, in my fantasies I host a symposium of chronically disorganized people. They debate amongst themselves whose stories make the most sense.
Often I find myself challenged by these stories, because they don’t match mine, and sometimes my client has a point. For instance, the one who would never, ever leave the house without perfect hair and makeup. I’m more or less the opposite. I’ve left the house in my nightgown because I wasn’t feeling well, but I would never let my HOME go.
The first sign that something is wrong with me is when I somehow “don’t feel like” making the bed. This happens two or three times a year, and without fail, it means I’m either getting a migraine or coming down with a cold.
My client’s story is that the way you present yourself says everything about you. It makes or breaks your reputation.
My story is that I’m not going to bend over backwards to impress other people, and if they require me to look photo-perfect before they’ll talk to me, then I don’t want them for a friend anyway.
My client believes that real friends will accept your home in any state, that they come over to see you, not your house.
My story is that since I work at home, I need and want it to be orderly. I clean my house for myself, not for anybody else. My story is that my home reflects my mental state and my self-respect.
What if we’re both right?
What if everything about us has the opportunity to make a first impression? What if we’re better off attending to both our personal appearance and our homes?
I sure don’t want that to be the answer!
On the other hand, what if we’re both wrong? What if our real friends don’t care if we look a little sloppy OR if our living rooms do?
There’s no right answer here. It depends entirely on whether you care more about your own inner standards or about the judgments of others. It’s also true that people are different, our situations are different, and the values and opinions of our friends vary person to person.
People are often afraid to have me over, because they know about my work. There are people I’ve known socially for many years who have never allowed me to visit them at home. It’s ironic because out of everyone, I’m the *least* likely to judge! I have seen it all and I have smelled it all and I have climbed over it all. I know that people rarely manage to keep up with their own image of what they wished their homes looked like.
Part of what fascinates me about working with chronically disorganized people is that learning about them helps me to learn about myself. Every time I come back from a home visit, I get rid of stuff. I recognize that my clients’ daffy stories about why they “need” to keep certain things sound... hauntingly familiar.
So much of it is aspirational. I’ll wear that one day, I’ll read that one day, I’ll learn how to do that one day, I’ll file that one day, I’ll fix that one day, I’ll sell that at a yard sale one day, I’ll eat that one day.
What about today?
What are we doing about today?
If my stuff doesn’t match my routine, then why? Why am I not taking advantage of these opportunities that I’ve provided myself? Why do I plan to do one thing and then spend my time doing something else instead?
Only one thing is guaranteed. The stories I tell myself about why I’m doing one thing instead of something else are not obvious to anyone but me. My story is my own, and my chaos is my personal chaos.
I was in my apartment alone one night when a strange man knocked on the door.
I answered it.
The strange man asked if we had change for a twenty.
At this point in my life, my husband and I live at a pier, a busy tourist area with a lot of foot traffic about ten feet from our front door. Anyone who shows up at our door could be, quite literally, anyone, from a transient to a yacht owner.
The smart thing for any true crime aficionado and student of the martial arts, especially a small female one, would be to ignore a knock at the door entirely. If you know me, text me or call out my name and prove it. If you don’t know me, vamoose.
I’m a trusting soul, however, and I answer my door.
The man introduces himself as my new neighbor and says he needs change because he’s trying to sell a piece of furniture to someone from craigslist.
A likely story!
Surely this dude is trying to convince me of something. He wants to find out if I’m by myself, he wants to know if he can trick me into showing him where I keep my money.
Or, he’s purely honest and he believes that neighbors can approach each other and ask for small favors.
I have the luxury of taking him at face value, for several reasons.
There’s also the fact that this guy fits. He’s from a different ethnic background than me, but he clearly looks and sounds like the software engineer he describes himself to be. He seems like the kind of guy we would hang out with.
This is the funny part. Everyone in this story definitely has twenty dollars, or, rather, the ten dollars needed to make change for the furniture sale.
We just don’t have it in cash.
What, like, bills? From the ATM? Do they still make those?
Where we live, we can go weeks at a time without handling paper currency. We can go days without touching a plastic card for credit or debit as well. Neither of us has had a paper checkbook for several years. Often we can pay for things with our phones, which for people who grew up with rotary dial phones still sounds utterly preposterous.
We have at least three separate caches of paper money, no, wait, four? Five? None of them have anything smaller than a...
The fairy jar!
I have a glass jar filled with money, all of which I have found on the ground since I moved to California. More accurately, I’ve found it in the street, since I don’t take coins if I find them indoors. It has to be “free range,” which my husband finds hilarious. If it’s indoors I put it in the next available tip jar.
Fifteen years of pennies and nickels tends to add up, especially if you walk a lot, especially if you have a dog who likes to stop and sniff every blessed thing.
Whenever the jar has gotten full, I’ve “bought” coins out of it with paper bills. When the wad of paper money gets too big, I’ve bought the small bills with bigger bills.
It turns out there’s nearly two hundred bucks in there now!
You’d think there’d be more, but we don’t really generate our own coins in change because we don’t really pay for things with cash.
Sure enough, there is easily change for a twenty in the fairy jar. Our new neighbor has been patiently hanging out on the porch while hubby and I scramble around looking for small bills. We make the exchange.
Now there’s a new twenty-dollar bill in the fairy jar where there used to be pennies.
More importantly, we’ve met a new neighbor who feels like a kindred spirit. We’ve done a tiny favor for him. Through this transaction, we’ve gotten to learn each other’s names and recognize each other’s faces. When we see each other around the complex, we’ll recognize each other as ‘NEIGHBOR’ rather than ‘INCIPIENT THREAT.’
With the pennies I’ve found on the street over the years, I’ve bought another layer of safety and connection in my neighborhood. I’ve added trust to the world, or my corner of it.
This is abundance. This is how it works and how it feels.
I open my door freely to a stranger because I feel like I can do that without real risk. I’m happy to meet someone new who might be a new friend, or colleague, or an eligible date for one of my single friends.
This person asks me for money (well, kinda) and I have it. I have this specific money because I find it all the time, on the ground, like a walnut or a crabapple or a blue feather.
I find money because I believe that I “have the time” to walk my dog, to walk on errands, to go out and hold hands with my husband while we watch the sun set. I have the identical twenty-four hours as everyone else who has ever lived, and I’m one of the few who feels like I “have the time.”
I put the $20 in the jar, in place of the smaller bills and coins that were there before, and it looks mighty fine.
I’m creating something out of nothing.
I’ve recognized subtle opportunities and taken advantage of them.
I’ve made my own fairy jar and I’ve filled it with coins that other people never bothered to pick up. I’ve made my own bit of whimsy and I’ve used it to work a bit of magic in real life.
Someday is Not a Day in the Week. Sam Horn wants to remind us that we can find a way to live out our dreams today, rather than waiting until “later.” First of all, later doesn’t always come. Second, by the time we retire, many of us don’t have the health or freedom to do the things we’ve been waiting for decades to do. Whatever it is, let’s figure out how to do it now.
This book is centered around a “Year by the Water,” Horn’s way of living what she teaches. She decided what she wanted to do, gave away all her stuff, and hit the road. This sounds like something for kids in their twenties, and of course it is, but Horn is a mom of a kid that age. Pay attention, non-kids, because the message that Someday is Not a Day in the Week is aimed at us.
Horn reminds us that we can’t take our mobility for granted. She has a few examples of people who worked hard their entire lives, only to be unable to enjoy their freedom once they had earned it. So many of us are such workaholics that we don’t know how to unplug. We don’t take our vacations when we’ve earned them, and we don’t retire even when we can. How would we feel if we had to look back and realize that we never took the time when we had the opportunity, and suddenly we never can?
How can we make more time to live out our dreams and be more consistent with our values? How can we restructure our commitments? If George R. R. Martin isn’t obligated to finish writing Game of Thrones, then how much are we obligated to do?
I loved Sam Horn’s book, which is full of practical advice and exercises. I’m taking the advice that Someday is Not a Day in the Week and building my semi-annual review around it.
I hope you choose to stop waiting and start creating the quality of life you want, need, and deserve now—not later.
Are you overthinking your dream?
....when we focus on what we don’t want, that’s what we’re going to get.
Get crystal clear about what makes you laugh and enjoy your life, and schedule it on your calendar.
...meaning makes us happy, not money. And everyone can afford that.
Have some of your dreams come true and you’re not even noticing them?
I almost didn’t marry my husband. It would have been the greatest screwup of all time. Worse, I didn’t really realize why until we’d been together nearly 13 years.
I was caught up in a battle between the pop culture image of romance and the true love that I finally found, neither of which have anything at all to do with one another.
This is what happened. My current husband was only weeks away from suggesting that we start dating. I had no idea, of course. I had broken up with someone a few months earlier, after a year of dating, and I didn’t have a thought to spare for my coworker/lunch buddy/future husband.
I’d met a boy on a plane.
I’d met a boy on a plane, and he’d given me his email address, and after my breakup I remembered him. The very fact that I’d kept that little slip of paper should have told me something about my previous relationship.
I thought I’d reach out and see if the cute boy from the plane wanted to get together.
The idea of myself initiating a new flirtation made me feel modern and strong and sexy. Look at me, chasing a boy I met on a plane! Just like a romantic comedy!
*** cue many, many red flags ***
I emailed the boy, and he wrote back. We made a date.
We lived a two-hour drive apart. This didn’t bother me (which it absolutely should have) because he lived in the same city as my ex. (That’s how we met, because we were both on a flight to his local airport - not mine).
For the sake of romance, I made the drive. I stayed at my auntie’s house and we gossiped about MY DATE. Ooh la la! How much of the excitement of a new romance comes from talking it up with your friends and family?
What are you going to wear??
Hair up or down??
Oh ma gawwwwwd! *squeal*
Check in and let me know you’re safe...
I drove to the designated place of assignation. The cute boy from the plane was there, just like in a movie. We hugged and walked around talking.
In retrospect, I did almost all of the talking.
We kissed and agreed to make another date. I went back to my auntie’s feeling very fluttery indeed.
Then I didn’t really hear from him for weeks.
I called him and we made another date. I really liked spending time with him. I thought he was cute, and he had a cute accent, and I liked his clothes, and he was my age, and he complimented me, and he seemed to be a great listener, and we had pretty strong physical chemistry.
Just like in the movies!
Then I didn’t really hear from him for weeks.
We made another date, Date Number Three. I thought of myself as a smart, savvy, independent and upwardly mobile woman, so this was going to be the test. How were the cute boy from the plane and I going to make this a thing?
Was this worth a four-hour round-trip every time we saw each other?
Who was going to do the driving?
I’d already been down this road with the ex who lived in the same city. Once I realized I had no intention of marrying that guy, I knew I wasn’t willing to do that drive for something more casual. That meant the same decision point would come up again. Who would move?
I liked this cute boy, and I liked holding hands with him, and he was a great kisser. I needed to know more, though. I set out on the drive for Big Date Number Three with my bag full of question marks.
The date involved both of us meeting in a distant city and going on a riverboat cruise. OMG how romantic!!!
I got seriously lost on the way, because I’m a terrible driver and a worse navigator, and I told him I was going to be late.
He yelled at me on the phone. He was genuinely mad.
I had nearly two hours to think about this before we met. He’d agreed to drive away and meet me in our destination city, skipping the whole riverboat cruise, and I thought that was accommodating of him. Still, he’d yelled at me on the phone, and yelling is a dealbreaker for me. If we both hadn’t already put in hours of driving, I would have ended it on the spot.
Let’s find out, I thought. Let’s just see this through and we can have the Where Is This Going talk.
As soon as we met, I started in. “You yelled at me on the phone. Are you a yeller, [Cute Boy]? It’s okay, lots of people are.” He didn’t answer me.
What should have gone into that conversation, what should have come unprompted, was AN APOLOGY. That didn’t happen, and I put it into one of the many pockets on my bag of question marks.
We had a normal date. That worked for me. Almost all humans are abjectly rotten at apologizing, and I wasn’t going to hold it against him if he could move past his anger and shake off a bad mood. As long as he got the point that yelling at me is not okay.
That afternoon I initiated The Talk. I held his hands and told him I really liked him and asked him how he wanted to move forward. Since we lived two hours apart, who would do the driving?
“Why do you have to make it difficult?” he said.
He didn’t want to have this conversation at all.
The two-hour drive, though! Four hours round-trip!
We talked for nearly an hour, and the lightbulb finally flickered on over my head. This wasn’t going to work. I couldn’t take this boy seriously.
Then he made HIS pitch. Since it was our third date. Did I want to go to Motel 6 with him?
“Or we could go to the Super 8. I have a coupon.”
I dropped him off at the Motel 6 and broke up with him by email that week.
What happened here was a classic Pursuer/Distancer relationship. I chased this mystery boy, knowing nothing about him, because the mystery itself made him more attractive. Our “dates” felt exciting due to the novelty value.
After I started imagining him actually in my world, being “boyfriend and girlfriend” rather than “dating,” the spell wore off. The practicalities loomed in my mind. Would I have to drive four hours every time I wanted to see him? Why had he invited me to a cheap motel when we both supposedly had our own apartments? Why hadn’t I met any of his friends, family, coworkers, or neighbors?
Why wouldn’t he give me his business card when I asked?
With time, I grew more suspicious. I started to think he was a pathological liar, or at least someone with something to hide. I thought he hadn’t invited me to his place because he had a live-in girlfriend (or wife), either that or he lived in squalor. I thought he was lying about his job and being “an entrepreneur.” He’d made other claims and I had no reason to believe any of them, either. I was 100% sure he had lied about being a Mensan like me.
A Mensan! I fell for someone’s BS and I’m a documentably smart person.
Here’s the deal. Between Date Number Two and Date Number Three with the cute boy from the plane, my current husband made his pitch. I should date him because he thought there could be something more between us. I told him we had nothing to talk about. I said he was only interested because he knew I was starting something with someone else. Why hadn’t he said anything sooner?
He almost walked. At that point, I had almost succeeded in permanently driving him away.
What are some differences between the cute mysterious boy from the plane and my lunch buddy/future husband?
I knew nothing about the cute boy, and I basically knew my work buddy’s entire life history.
I knew nobody from the cute boy’s life, and I’d met almost all of my work buddy’s friends and his daughter.
I knew nothing about the cute boy’s work situation or home life, and I’d worked with my work buddy for about a year and a half. I’d also been over to his house a few times.
I knew nothing about the cute boy’s value system, other than what he’d demonstrated through his actions (yelling at me, lying), while I’d spent many hours discussing ethics and life philosophy with my work buddy.
I couldn’t really tell you anything about the cute boy, other than my guesses and hopes and dreams and twitterpated feelings. I could tell you basically everything about my work buddy, from his favorite lunch orders to his personal heroes to his musical tastes to his finances.
What I had with my work buddy/future husband was friendship. That’s how we wound up married four years after we met. That’s why we’re still happy after thirteen years. We actually know each other.
I don’t have to speculate with my girlfriends about whether he likes me or not, because he told me himself. I don’t have to guess “what he meant by that” when he sends me a text, because I can just ASK HIM myself. I don’t have to guess how he feels, I know. I know him.
What we have is a companionate marriage. We’ve never done pursuer/distancer.
Why do you have to make it difficult, asked my cute date, the one who yelled at me, the one who never called and told me nothing about his life. Why? Because that’s reality. At some point you actually live together and do laundry together, and you have to expose yourselves and start having a normal, ordinary life.
Make it difficult. That’s my advice. Ask your questions and make sure you know what you’re getting into. Don’t be like me and chase after some unknown random dude when you might be losing out on the awesome guy right beside you.
I made it difficult with my current husband. We spent six months debating about how we’d move forward before I would agree to marry him. Because of that process, we spend our time laughing and cooking for each other and traveling around the world. Make it difficult enough and it will be easy ever after.
It’s one of my coaching clients, and she has a little secret. It’s not much of a secret as far as I’m concerned, because so many people do the same thing. What makes a secret a secret, though, is the shame. That’s why they call it a ‘secret’ and not a ‘surprise.’
Guess what I’m doing?? When you find out you’re going to be SO EXCITED!!!
Nope, not that kind. The guilty kind.
She wakes up in the middle of the night, gets out of bed, and binge-eats.
Okay, not everyone does that, but I can tell you why it’s so similar to what so many people do.
She, like many people, often skips breakfast. If she does eat anything in the morning, it’s usually a coffee and pastry or, like, an energy bar.
A snack instead of a proper lunch.
Nothing until dinnertime, 6-8 hours after the last time she ate.
Any of this starting to sound familiar?
It’s incredibly common for people to eat some kind of snack, usually dessert, very late at night. Usually right before bed. I personally cannot do this because it triggers my night terrors. No amount or flavor of ice cream is worth screaming in my sleep.
Other people, though, are understandably going to be hungry again 3-4 hours after dinner, and they’re going to eat. Most people also crave sweets after a meal.
So yeah. Night eating. *shrug* Most people do it. Why be ashamed about it?
I get the shame thing, I really do. When I have night terrors, I always start crying as soon as I snap awake. I can’t imagine anything more embarrassing than running around the house in my underwear, screaming, because I had some stupid dream about a spider on the ceiling. It makes me feel like a child, like I can’t control myself. Hate it.
It’s the body telling the brain what to do.
Exactly like the craving to eat late at night.
My client wants to stop, she says. She feels ashamed and guilty and she’s not enjoying the effects on her health. (Diabetes, sleep apnea, a 100-pound weight gain).
I suggest that she might change her mealtimes and come up with things to do that will keep her in bed when she wakes up at night. Like her favorite playlist, a bottle of aromatherapy fragrance, maybe a podcast episode. I wake up in the middle of the night a lot, too, and it’s pretty boring to just lie there for 90 minutes.
My plan, of course, doesn’t work.
The problem with persistent problems is that they’re always the result of a complex web of issues. Changing only one thing usually isn’t enough to disrupt the pattern. It can be very tricky to figure out what is the root cause.
There’s another problem with persistent problems. That is that we’re in love with them.
There’s always some part of the web of issues that is our very most favorite, adorable thing.
It’s usually part of our very identity, or the one thing we’d want to hold onto if we ever had to give up everything else. Our heart’s desire and our true delight.
The thing about night eating is that it’s done ALONE. It’s a favored refuge of people who feel that they serve others all day. Workaholics and people pleasers. There is nothing that feels as good as TOTAL PRIVACY while indulging in something for yourself alone.
Hey, I agree with that, and I do it too! Showering, writing in my journal, birdwatching... The difference between me and my troubled clients is that I have no shame in indulging myself. I do plenty for other people, but I don’t owe anyone anything, and I have no problem setting boundaries and making sure I have time to myself. Otherwise, I could never deal with the emotional demands that I do.
I also don’t have body image issues, for my own complicated reasons, and I eat whatever I want. If I want cake for breakfast then I’ll eat it, and I’d actually enjoy it much more if I felt like someone was glaring at me and judging me. Ha, this is for you, *big bite*.
The simplest way for my client to deal with her night eating really would be to change her eating schedule. Start with a big hot breakfast. Take an hour off every day and eat a proper sit-down lunch, no errands, no “catching up” on work. Have a satisfying afternoon snack sometime between 3-5, or at least eat something during the commute home. Eat a good dinner.
The goal here is to eat 70-75% of your energy requirements for the day BEFORE DINNER, so that the nice dinner is a chance to put a cap on the day.
As opposed to being incredibly hungry almost all day long, rushing around, “no time” to take real breaks, and feeling starved after twelve busy waking hours.
But doing that would interfere with [everyone’s] image of the diligent, hardworking and ultra-responsible professional busy person.
How do I know how valuable I am unless I feel like I’m sacrificing for my work (my staff, my clients, my customers) all day every day?
Being hungry all day, as a pattern, is a form of self-punishment. It’s a job for a trained therapist to figure out why someone would feel that way, would want to do that. We’d never treat others as badly as we treat ourselves, and there’s something deep under that, but I sure don’t know what it is.
There are other ways for my client to set herself up to quit night eating. She could sign up for a meal delivery plan and eat only what gets delivered.
She could ask her assistant to make sure she eats breakfast, lunch, and a snack, and even have her order it for her each day. It could be scheduled as part of their check-in meetings.
She could put locks on her fridge, freezer, and cupboards, and give her husband the key. More positively, they could quit stocking food in their home, and they could dine out together at a salad buffet or whatever.
She could tell her doctor about it and ask for help. A change in medication, maybe? A doctor would see this as a straightforward health issue, not a shameful secret.
As a practical matter, eating at night is a way of annoying yourself. Crumbs in the bed: uncomfortable! Not sleeping the whole night through: exhausting! Being hungry all day long at work, every week of the year: predictable, boring, and unproductive! Exploding at other people when you’re hangry: mean, rude, and unfair to them!
There are no “wins” here except for the pure hedonism of eating alone, late at night.
As an emotional matter, what’s the deal with night eating? If you want to indulge, just do it in public and, in the unlikely event that anyone hassles you, wink at them and take a nice big grinning bite. The real issue here is probably working out why you care what other people think, rather than what you yourself think.
It was certain doom when we realized we were both marching band geeks. My husband and I still sometimes go around whistling Sousa marches together. He played tuba and I played (but you knew this) clarinet. Therefore we can do a reasonable rendition of Fairest of the Fair.
Our musical training also helped when I taught him various ballroom dances. He knew what I meant when I taught him to swing dance and suggested we try double time.
Then, triple time!
I kinda do everything triple time now.
I just discovered that one of the library smartphone apps I use offers a higher playback speed than the other one. For the enthusiasts, that’s Hoopla vs. OverDrive. Although I was in public at the time, I bounced in my seat and let out a little ‘woohoo!’
Earlier this year, I finally figured out the secret of how to input ebooks into my speed-reading app, Outread. Depending on what it is, I can read at triple or quadruple speed.
This is probably why I have little patience for TV or movies. Sometimes I want to watch something terrible purely for pop culture reasons, and I feel stuck at regular playback. It creates a weird paradox, where it takes me longer to absorb something that doesn’t really interest me than it does to indulge in something I enjoy.
Note: I have seen some unbelievably, staggeringly bad horror films...
...a genre which, at high speed, might quickly morph into screwball comedy.
It often does at my house, because my little parrot likes to walk behind me on the couch, making smooching sounds and imitating games of ping-pong.
Doing things faster is funny. Sometimes, when I bust through my chores, I think of Lucille Ball stuffing chocolates into her mouth.
The way we look at our daily routine is entirely our own choice. It’s equally as possible to take great pride in drudgery as it is to resent even the lightest duties. That’s because we don’t necessarily care about the nature of work; we care about whether we feel like it’s our choice or someone else’s.
Example: I find nail art mystifying. I utterly cannot understand it. I once had to wear a coat of clear nail polish for a gig, and I was counting the hours until I could remove it, because I couldn’t escape the smell. If I had some job where I was forced to sit still and have nail polish applied on a regular basis, and then wear it all day, I’d be climbing the walls. Yet a lot of people wear it for fun. Go figure.
We should all be more aware of what we enjoy for its own sake and what we’d rather trade off for something else.
I like hustling and bustling around, getting things done. It doesn’t even really matter what I’m doing, because I’m listening to a book. Might as well keep busy.
Often, I play Beat the Clock, trying to get a set number of tasks done before a timer goes off. That’s because I no longer have a washer and dryer.
Don’t get me wrong - there’s little that annoys me more than folding laundry. Carrying fifteen pounds of sweaty workout clothes across the apartment complex, and back again when it’s clean, is not my idea of a fun time. Sixteen washers and dryers are shared by 332 units, which is probably 400-500 tenants. This creates some interesting constraints, and constraints are all you need to make up an interesting game.
Can I find a block of time when two or three machines are available? How much can I get done in 28 minutes while waiting to put the wash into the dryer? How much can I get done in 44 minutes while waiting for the dryer to finish?
Part of my game is refusing to do housework on the weekend, and that includes Fridays. I try to avoid Mondays as well, because several holidays include a Monday. And I’m busy on Wednesdays.
Okay, to tell the truth, I only really do housework on Tuesday and Thursday.
Most of it on Thursday.
My game of doing things on triple time means that five or six days a week, I don’t have to do anything but walk the dog. No laundry, no errands, nothing!
Imagine that. Five or six days a week, I have zero stress about cleaning my apartment.
Oh, but you don’t have kids, I hear. Yeah, I’m about to turn 44. Most people don’t have little kids around at my age. Also, both of my parents saw children as little mini chore machines. My mom would tape a chore list for each of us on the front door every morning. We weren’t allowed to go out and play until our chores were done, and this started at kindergarten age. We were gradually considered competent to do every single household task except cleaning the bathroom, and I took that over in high school. I won’t claim that my brothers and I looked forward to doing chores more than any other kid, but I will certainly say that we did our share.
If you live in a home, and your chores stress you out, well, it’s your own home. You’re in charge of creating the rules there. If you insist on burnout, resentment, and annoyance, that is your seigneurial right. Far be it from me to tell anyone to quit being irritated or exhausted if they want to be.
There are lots of games that can be played with task lists. Chores can be regarded as claiming or expanding territory. There can be a race between players or against a timer. There can be bonus points for one thing versus another. Something like a list of business calls can be regarded as a treasure hunt or Mission: Accomplished. Kids are great for this as well, because their ability to continually generate new games is more or less infinite.
Triple time is irresistible to me. It puts a spring in my step. It adds a bit of interest and excitement to what could easily be a boring, routine day. It’s not for everyone, obviously, but... why not one and a quarter time?
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
This website uses marketing and tracking technologies. Opting out of this will opt you out of all cookies, except for those needed to run the website. Note that some products may not work as well without tracking cookies.Opt Out of Cookies