Little Flames

“Consider renouncing specialness – including being important and admired. Renunciation is the antithesis of clinging, and thus a radical path to happiness.”

– Rick Hanson, “Buddha’s Brain”

A challenge to being a musician, or any type of creative, is the domineering sense of self that can get in the way of art. Self-importance can come with the territory of creating something you perceive as beautiful. It’s an irritating habit, but it also helps bring awareness to your art. There’s a sense that you don’t want to be a big asshole claiming to be the greatest thing ever, but a significant amount of self-promotion is necessary if you “make it” or whatever they say.

If you make art and don’t care if anyone sees/hears/experiences it, then where’s the drive to post on YouTube, or share on social, or get your paintings up in a local coffee shop?

Alternately, if you really care if people see/hear/experience your art, then how do you know there’s real substance behind your art, that you’re not just pandering and people-pleasing, that you haven’t “sold out”?

I’ve experienced the self as an obstacle. The self, just an imaginary construct, disconnects me from others and from reality itself. The more “me” there is, the more isolated I feel. The less I think about myself – if I’m absorbed in an engaging task, communing with loved ones, reading a good book, or serving another – the happier I feel.

Of course, there’s huge value in introspection. Introspection can seem a self-involved pursuit, but it’s really about taking the self and plugging it into a universal experience. This thing I’m going through, it has been lived by humans for thousands of years.

In the spirit of reducing the size and scope of self, or ego, I want to be mindful of what I’m posting on social media, which I tend to avoid but which I’m supposed to use (as they say). And I want to be mindful of what I share on the internet in general. What’s the purpose? Am I trying to say, “Hey look at me, I’m so great and this is why?” Or, “Bestow love upon me because of this insight?” Or, “Please validate my lived experience so that I can finally believe I’m living a good life?”

Or is the purpose of a post rather to share something that lit me up, that I was thinking about, that made my life better in some way and therefore might offer you a little flame as well?

That’s what I want to do, I want to offer little flames. I want to share the things in my soul because it isn’t my soul so much as the soul of the world, the root of truth, the lived and shared experience, the thing that connects me to you. To feel a little less alone, a little more a part of something.

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My first album is now on YouTube!

Yesterday I blocked off some time to upload all of the tracks off The Criminal Kid’s 2012 album “These Blue Walls Are Faking Freedom”. It was our first full-length recording, and came to be in the dead of winter. Oh, and then my band broke up and everything changed.

Still, the album is a time capsule, a distillation of that early twenty-something energy, the desire for more, for meaning, for freedom. It’s all I’ve gotta get out of here this and these chains can’t hold a soul that.

You can find it here.

The new album is very different. But of course it is, after so many years.

X,

-Allysia

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Nonviolent Communication

Nonviolent Communication

The book Nonviolent Communication by Marshall B. Rosenberg is divided into four “sessions”, roughly an hour each (whether you’re reading or listening – though I highly recommend the audiobook version). These sessions are highly practical and have usable insights into how to better communicate with others, get in touch with our needs, empathize with the needs of others, improve our relationship with ourselves, reduce anger, and so on.

Fundamentally it’s about compassion – of expressing what’s alive in us, and seeing what’s alive in others. It’s not about criticizing or judging, as we’re so apt to do.

“All violence is the result of people tricking themselves into believing that their pain derives from other people and that consequently those people deserve to be punished.”

Someone doesn’t make us angry. If we get angry, there is anger within us already. Rosenberg uses the example of working with teens, and how on two successive days he was injured while breaking up a fight. The second day saw a worse injury, but the first day saw anger where the second day saw none. Why? Because Rosenberg judged the first day’s offender as spoiled and privileged. His opinion of the second kid was of a more pitiful character in need of help. So despite the worse injury, he didn’t react in anger. Not true with the first kid. But it was the same situation. Break up the fight, get hurt. Shouldn’t he react the same way? The reality is that anger comes from our perceptions about other people, not the action itself.

And, “at the core of all anger is a need that is not being fulfilled.” If you’re angry, what are you lacking? If I get angry because no one cleaned up the kitchen, it’s infringing on my need for time, since time is precious to me and I don’t have very much of it. I also have a need for respect, which feels violated if, as the woman, I feel like I’m doing more than my fair share. And that underlines another need – for fairness and equality.

I can then communicate my need for time, respect and fairness. Instead of saying, “You didn’t do the dishes again…” I can express my need. This builds a bridge of empathy with the other person, where blame would’ve only created defensiveness.

A quote that’s relevant to this point, and explains itself:

“Two questions help us see why we are unlikely to get what we want by using punishment to change people’s behavior.

“The first question is: What do I want this person to do that’s different from what he or she is currently doing?

“If we ask only this first question, punishment may seem effective, because the threat or exercise of punitive force may well influence someone’s behavior. However, with the second question, it becomes evident that punishment isn’t likely to work: What do I want this person’s reasons to be for doing what I’m asking?”

I like his advice about accepting responsibility for our feelings, and allowing others to be responsible for theirs as well:

“In this stage, which I refer to as emotional slavery, we believe ourselves responsible for the feelings of others. We think we must constantly strive to keep everyone happy. If they don’t appear happy, we feel responsible and compelled to do something about it. This can easily lead us to see the very people who are closest to us as burdens.”

Instead, when we perceive ourselves and others as free agents, we delight in making life more wonderful for others.

Equally fascinating was his discussion on compliments, which he believes to be just as alienating as insults – they both show that you sit in judgment, be it positive or negative. “Jon is so smart,” “Alison is late all the time,” it doesn’t matter the charge – the judging is the behavior that needs to change. Instead, when you offer a compliment, be specific (“Jon, the math lesson we had on Thursday really helped me understand integers more clearly”), and explain how it made you feel and the need in you they fulfilled (“it made me feel confident and capable, which helped me pass my exam”). Since reading this, I have noticed how often I sit in judgment of others, be it positive or negative.

At the start of the book, Rosenberg discusses separating observations from judgments, and detaching from our predilection to constantly judge. Instead of saying “He has such a big mouth”, which can’t be observed or measured (not metaphorically speaking, anyway), it would be more accurate to say, “I’ve noticed during the last few meetings, he’s gone on at length about some wartime anecdote that isn’t relevant to our work”. If you approach someone with an observation, not a judgment, they’ll be a) actually able to change the behavior (how do you change having a “big mouth”?), and b) they’ll be unlikely to react defensively.

I intend to listen to this book every now and then to re-engage with the concepts. I’ve noticed a difference even in the last week or so in how I’ve interacted with others.

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Peace

Peace

One of my biggest challenges in life is navigating fickle moods and anxieties that feel more like sickness than emotion. Fear takes me like a fever and my reality distorts.

Speaking of reality distortion: It seems that peak stress (such as not sleeping much, working long days) and creative expression (jamming, writing, performing) take me interestingly close to a psychedelic state. Something about the lights; something about the way disparate ideas connect; things shift and swirl beneath my feet.

(Perhaps this is why my psychedelic adventures have been sparse and cautiously done, and that a small amount goes a very long way. I’m already very nearly there.)

If I were able to better harness this abstract mind of mine, and calm the anxiety that hides beneath the surface, I could experience much more peace and satisfaction. But isn’t that true of everyone? Isn’t peace just around the corner? Isn’t conflict constant? Once you solve a problem, another one is around the corner, waiting. And it’s probably a bigger one. A juicier one. And I love problems, don’t we all love problems? What else would life be? A code to crack, a push to grow, an accomplishment and deep satisfaction when the problem is confronted. No problems would be like no gravity. Our muscles would waste away and we’d be flimsy and shapeless.

So at the same time, I resent anything that takes me away from the immediacy of my life. “If only I were less anxious…”, “If only I were more peaceful…”, these are true statements, and I want to grow in that direction, but these thoughts come dangerously close to making me resent where I am in the moment. If only makes things seem much worse than they really are. Because right now, things are pretty good. Great, even. Ups and downs are all a part of it. Sure, I’m working on being less anxious. But I’ve come a long way from the panic attacks of fifteen years ago, and everything really is okay.

It reminds me of how quickly we tend to acclimate to our reality, and then we want more. When I was younger, I lived in a cricket-infested small apartment, but it was good. Rent was cheap, I didn’t have to work much, and I was able to live creatively. But then – but then – I wanted a house. So my friends and I rented a house. And that was good. So much space! How fun to be with friends! But then, but then – turf wars, hostility, passive-agressiveness. I wanted to be alone. And on and on the journey went.

Now I live in a townhouse in a nice, new neighborhood. The rental price is one I couldn’t have afforded even a few years ago, especially on my own. It’s small, but nicely spaced between three floors. I can escape to do work without disrupting anyone. I can sing loudly, because I only have one neighbor who works during the day, and the soundproofing is great. My landlord is awesome. I’ve been here nearly two years, and I’ve had moments of deep pride at being able to make living here work.

Still, still, still. I think, wouldn’t it be nice to have a house? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a real office? Wouldn’t it be nice for my daughter to have more space? A yard? Or maybe it would be nicer living in a condo in a larger city. Wouldn’t it be nice to live that life and have those experiences instead? Wouldn’t it be nice to be somewhere that isn’t here?

And that nice home that I might’ve only dreamed of years ago, it becomes less satisfying. Suddenly I want more. It’s not enough. What if, what if.

Things could always be better. But things are good. If I stop averting my gaze from what’s right in front of me – family, friends, space, freedom, meaningful work, this bustling Sunday afternoon coffee shop – if I stop drifting to supposedly better futures – then, THEN, it’s all okay, it was always okay.

Yes, that’s where peace lives. That’s where it has always been.

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On Journaling and Love.

My life goes by too quickly when I don’t journal. Just yesterday, it seems, I wrote down some happenings. The next day, I was too busy. Journaling didn’t seem so important. Then the next day, then the next. And suddenly it was ten days later, like hitting the snooze button too many times and realizing you only have ten minutes to get to work.

Ten days is better; before that, it was a month.

Journaling is a dear, treasured habit that I haven’t been keeping up. I’ve always journaled, and since 2015 I’ve been collecting my yearly writings in print-copy paperbacks, because why not? I love having a paperback journal, and it’s a wonderful incentive to actually write.

I love writing, and yet I resist it fiercely. Isn’t this how it goes? Why do we resist what we love?

Because love is hard. You experience love and it threatens to break apart your very being. It takes you to the edge of overwhelm. It’s so powerful that it can break your life down to pieces in a moment. All that you think you are, all that you’ve built, demolished. Love builds towers, and it tears them down, with equal ease.

There is a sentimental, tepid, head-based thing we call love, and it’s the thing we say without thinking, the thing written on Hallmark cards, the infatuation with someone new and exciting. That kind of love is easy. Because it doesn’t mean anything.

The love I’m talking about is a love most parents know – a love so overwhelming and primal that the thought of anything bad happening to your children leaves you heaving, your entire being wracked with pain, so filled with the idea that you would do anything for that kid. All you’ve built, you would tear it down in a second if you needed to. That love is more powerful than any built life.

So love is hard. It’s a hard thing to feel, a hard thing to embrace. I think we spend a lot of time recoiling from love, preferring the safety of weaker states, states that don’t have the power to completely topple us.

I dearly love writing, and I always have. But I resist it, too. It’s work.

I’ve been in partnered relationships in an almost-unbroken chain since I was seventeen years old. Being in a relationship is natural and enjoyable for me, and I’m happier that way. But loving another person is hard; to be generous when you’re annoyed, kind when you’re indignant, to really talk, and really listen, to stay physically connected, to keep the hearth warm.

I love my daughter more than anything in the world, but parenting is the hardest gig I’ve ever had.

And that’s nothing to say of music, music, music.

That’s why I came to my journal today. I don’t just want to do what’s easy, because there’s no love there. What would I do instead? Some work emails, watch TV, read a book. All fine things, all things I’ll keep doing, but I have to remember the love. Journaling helps me remember (and psychedelics, but that’s for later).

Love is hard, but it’s one of the only things that actually matters. That’s why it topples towers. The towers were just pretend, and love was the only real thing all along.

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The Power of Projects

Recently, during my 30-day challenge of posting a live video on YouTube every day, I talked about the power of projects. I discussed how turning random tasks and habits into larger, overarching projects is a great way to make the tasks themselves more meaningful.

I’d like to some few examples illustrating my point, and encourage you to start a project of your own.

Cooking Project

Most of us cook, though some of us enjoy it more than others. I’m among those who deeply enjoy it – I have been to culinary school, after all.

But cooking random recipes – which could be considered a near-daily habit – isn’t particularly interesting on its own. When it’s a habit, it’s a matter of function. I cook to put food on the table for myself or my family. It doesn’t need to be fancy, interesting, adventurous, or creative.

But if I turn cooking into a project, suddenly “interesting” and “adventurous” materialize and I enjoy the process of cooking immensely.

A recent example is a project I’m working on with friends – a vegan cooking challenge that we’re designing as a series of online classes. For this course, I need to create some videos, and – most importantly – some foolproof recipes that even a beginner can figure out.

Yesterday, testing for this project entailed making four batches of chocolate chip cookies, experimenting with different ingredients and ratios as I went. It was great fun and now I feel like I have a solid cookie recipe under my belt.

Without the project in mind, I probably would’ve cooked a batch of chocolate chip cookies, look at the flat disasters and say, “well, that didn’t work, but oh well”. I wouldn’t try again. I’d eat the mediocre cookies and I’d probably go through the same mediocre cookie experience again a few months later.

But since I was creating a recipe for a project – the project of giving a beginner a good cookie recipe – I couldn’t stop there. I had to try again so that I could hit on something great.

Another idea: If I was creating a self-published cookbook for friends and family, I would be refining my skills and recipes, made meaningful under the umbrella of a larger project.

If I wanted to perfect my bread baking skills, I wouldn’t simply make random loaves here and there – I would follow and explore every page of a breadmaking book.

It doesn’t take much extra time to do this – aside from recipe planning for the week, which I do anyway, I simply take a few minutes to snap some photos of the plated meals and take notes in my digital journal.

It amounts to very little extra time spent for a massive output of meaning and interest.

The Music Album Project

It’s one thing to write songs here and there, which is something I’ve been doing since I was a child. But to say “I’m going to write an album” changes the meaning of songwriting – the songs themselves take on more purpose, and I push myself to excellence.

It is more work to create an album compared to writing disconnected songs. But it’s immensely rewarding. One of the top 3 highlights of my creative life is when my band The Criminal Kid recorded our first album back in 2012.

Health and Fitness Projects

Instead of running every day as a habit, why not try a “couch to 5k” program or signing up for a marathon?

Instead of saying “I’d like to lose weight and build muscle” and installing a daily exercise and meal-tracking habit, why not take photos of yourself every two weeks, with details of your weight and updated measurements? (When I did this back in 2017, a helpful side-effect of having updated body measurements was being able to shop online for clothing with ease).

What about practicing yoga with the intent to do an impromptu class in the park with your friends? Improving your flexibility so you’re able to do the splits? Improving your upper body strength so you’re able to do 100 push-ups, your core strength so you could plank for two minutes, and so on?

Teaching as a Project

One excellent project is that of teaching anything you’re learning. If I wanted to get into food photography, say, I might learn with the idea to teach it once I’ve learned it. I’d need to be able to explain the core elements of what I’m learning, which means I’d understand it deeply.

Plus, teaching is a win-win – perhaps you have a friend who’s always wanted to learn how to take better food photographs. You can spend the afternoon together, cooking and talking about photo techniques. You get to anchor your knowledge in the experience of teaching, and they get to pick up a new skill without having to take a class.

You could even create an online course after you’ve gone through the process of learning a skill. If you’re a new vegetable gardener, you could create a course based on your notes from the growing season, things you’ve read and your personal experiences. You could call it “The New Vegetable Gardener” and frame yourself as an enthusiastic beginner. People don’t always want to learn from experts, often preferring to learn from someone who’s only a few steps ahead of them.

You could then put your course up on a website such as Skillshare. Even if not a single person took your course, you’d still have the permanent benefit of solidifying your learning and adding meaning to your gardening experience.

Courses as Projects

Taking a course is a great project as well. If you’re wanting to learn personal accounting, you could do a bunch of random Googling – OR you could take a course on the subject. Learning from someone who’s taken the time to organize content for you, content with a clear beginning and end, is much more satisfying than miscellaneous internet searches.

Other Project ideas

What about the project of listening to 20 audiobooks in a year, where the stipulation is you can only listen to those books while you clean and do house chores? Cleaning becomes much more enjoyable that way. I’ve made my house spotless while engrossed in a particularly good fiction (The Help is a favorite).

What about turning a journaling habit into something more tangible, like a physical printed copy of your journal at the end of the year? I’ve been doing this since 2015, and my word count increases every year. It’s immensely pleasurable to receive my little paperback in the mail, and to see them take up more space on my shelf each year.

Conclusion

The idea of making projects out of habits and tasks is to create meaning out of chaos. Sure, I could journal every day until I die and reap immense benefits from it. I already have. But printing out my journals makes my life feel bigger, more coherent, and more meaningful. As a result, I’ve begun journaling more, and to a higher standard of quality. Perhaps ten years from now, I’ll look at my journaling habit as being the launching-off point to fiction or memoir writing.

Is there something you could project-ify in your life right now? A habit you’d like to implement, or a task you’re already doing anyway?

-A

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Keeping Track of Your Time

In a recent live video, I discussed the idea of time tracking, something that has been making a huge difference in my productivity and awareness. I thought I’d share more about it here.

Last week I was feeling overwhelmed by life. I was confronted by the difficulties in planning for the future during Covid. I was unsure what steps to take as an eager musician living in a part of the world that isn’t particularly hospitable to original artists.

These things are still true – Covid, and my unsureness – but I have found some helpful solutions to make me feel more in control of my day-to-day experience. Time tracking has been one of them, and it’s a habit I’m going to continue for at least another month (and possibly indefinitely if I find it useful enough).

Sunday Reviews

Every Sunday, I sit down for a couple of hours to write a review of the previous week and plan for the next week ahead. I’ve been doing this process for years, and I deeply enjoy it. Planning for the week ahead, the day before I get back into work mode, organizes my mind and gets me excited to work and take small steps toward audacious goals.

What I haven’t done, and what I’ve resisted doing for years, is to schedule my work, and to keep careful tabs on how much time I’m spending on tasks.

Perhaps there’s a rebelliousness there – “I didn’t decide to start a business and work from home only to micromanage my schedule”. I figure that I’m a highly-motivated person anyway, so why do I need to give myself time constraints and boundaries?

The virtue of time scheduling

What I didn’t realize is that scheduling my days (in a series of digital to-do check boxes) is an extremely useful way to manage my life, making sure I don’t waste time working on the things that don’t matter much, and that I’m devoting adequate time to the things that do matter, but that might be a lower priority.

For example, I’ve been reading some music marketing books to better understand the industry, as I’m several months shy of an album launch. This is a low-priority task in a time sense – it’s certainly not urgent to anyone else in the world – but it’s a high-priority task in that it’s connected to my most meaningful project at the moment. If I don’t block time to read and study and plan, then I’ll likely not do much of it.

On the other side of things, I tend to spend too much time doing work tasks. If I don’t budget my time, I can spend an entire afternoon doing something I probably could’ve done in a couple of hours.

Gaining accuracy

One benefit I hope to reap the rewards of is a more accurate view of how I’m spending my time, and how long it takes me to do certain tasks. As I go through this weekly time management process, I’ll be able to make more accurate estimates.

When I’m planning for the week, I have at the bottom of each day’s to-do a total of the hours I expect to spend on work. When the day is over, I write the actual total of time spent.

At the end of the week I can see how close my predictions were to reality, and calibrate for the upcoming week based on what I’ve learned.

Improved social life

The huge advantage of this time-tracking approach is that I’m able to schedule in long hangouts with friends while having the peace of mind that everything else that needs to get done, will get done.

I love spending time with friends and family. It’s the difference between a good day and a great day. My relationships are a “deathbed” thing – the people I’ve loved will mean much more at the end than the tasks I accomplished.

Having focused 2+ hour conversations with people I really enjoy adds sparkle and joy to my life. But when I’m not time-tracking and live in more of an ad-hoc way, I tend to not socialize as much. I’ll make it to the end of the week and realize I didn’t do much else aside from work. Hanging out with friends is a high-priority but low-urgency activity, so unless I make room for it and actively plan it into my schedule, these meaningful hangouts tend to fall by the wayside.

Freedom of mind

When I’ve put plenty of thought into my weekly schedule to make sure I’ve made room for everything that matters – work and play – I experience a freedom of mind. When I’m with my work, I can be fully-focused on my work (without feeling like I’m neglecting my social life). When I’m with my loved ones, I can be fully-focused on them (without feeling like I should be doing this or that task).

Time-wasting habits

A final thought on time-tracking is that, even after a week of doing this, I’m able to notice the many insidious ways I tend to waste time. A 1-hour work session becomes a 45-minute one because I’m spending the remainder of my time texting. Or a 1-hour work session becomes a 30-minute one because I forgot to account for cooking and mealtimes. Or I forgot to do a particular errand, so I need to leave the house two days in a row instead of getting it all done at once. And on.

The biggest benefit I’m finding so far is awareness. I want to become more aware of how I’m spending my time. I want to become more aware of how much time I’m spending on different areas (time spent socializing, versus my business, versus my album). I want to become more aware of the discrepancies between my predictions and what actually happens in real life.

So far, so good.

x

-Alysia

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Daily Live Videos

I love creating videos. It’s an immediate form of connection and expression. It’s faster and more personal than writing, though I still love writing plenty. How could I pick between the two? Writing allows for careful consideration, and there’s an artistry to stringing words together in new and beautiful ways.

Video backstory

In 2015, I committed to creating three videos per week for my YouTube channel PianoTV, which I did for a full two years. For two years after that, I published two videos a week. I’ve been taking something of a break in 2020, posting piano videos sporadically, but I’m looking to get back into publishing one video every week or two on that channel for the rest of the year.

I love talking about music and piano, but it’s also a lot of fun to talk (and write) about other areas of my life. I’m passionate about personal growth, cooking, reading, and a smattering of other things. I’ve created some videos on my personal YouTube channel, but the process of filming – setting up my equipment, recording, editing and uploading – is time-consuming, time I don’t have due to the demands of my work, various projects, and my toddler.

Live videos every day in September

As such, I decided it would be fun to film short live videos every single day in September. I’m currently on Day 8, and the process has been fun so far. None of my topics are pre-determined – I just pick something I’d like to talk about each day when I sit down in front of my smartphone.

This idea was directly inspired by Lauren, a super awesome person who’s been doing daily live Facebook sessions for 800+ days in a row. How hardcore is that? If she can do years of daily videos, surely I can commit to thirty days.

The benefits of creating live videos

Since I’ve created so many videos (something like 450 through PianoTV alone, not to mention all the videos in my courses), I’m fairly comfortable in front of the camera. There are some other skills I’d like to build through this process, however, namely:

  • Keeping my thoughts organized and concise (limited to 10 minutes per day, often shorter)
  • Sharing more personal details about my life (this is a big sticking point – I love the idea of being open, vulnerable and sharing the good and the bad – I’m just not very skilled at this)
  • Self-discipline (by committing to something for 30 days and actually doing it)
  • Being more comfortable with live videos (mistakes and pauses will happen)

Say I wanted to get into public speaking. Wouldn’t it be great to have the experience of doing a bunch of live videos, where I had the chance to practice improvisation and clarity of thought, before getting on a stage?

I can see this practice benefiting my life in other areas as well. Perhaps I’ll become a more skilled conversationalist, better able to get to the point and communicate my thoughts.

On a personal level, maybe it’ll allow me to feel less insecure about my flaws and shortcomings by sharing them publicly. Being able to share all sides of myself – the sides I like and the sides that aren’t so favorable – might allow me to be more myself. If I have nothing to hide, then how can I not be exactly who I am? There’s a deep strength that comes with self-acceptance. If I accept and embrace myself, the light and the dark, how could I not be stronger, more alive, more capable of going after everything I want in life?

Who knows where the next three weeks of this challenge will lead. Who knows what I’ll talk about. I feel excited and lit up by that. Each day is a new little surprise. Each day, I’m 1% stronger, and 1% less afraid.

-A

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Posting my Five Year Plans

I just finished creating a page for my five-year plans and updated my “now” page to detail my quarterly and annual goals.

Will it Fly?

This was largely inspired by a conversation with a friend after doing the first exercise in Pat Flynn’s book‌‌ “Will it Fly?”. He had decided to go through the exercises in the book as a way to come up with a highly-aligned business idea that we can work on together with another friend. I’m excited to continue going through the book as well, and will post some takeaways as I‌ do.

I‌ was nervous to share my five-year plans with him. Five-year plans tend to be a little ridiculous. You consider the absolute best-case scenario, and sometimes it feels a little delusional. I‌ struggle with striking the balance between audacity and pragmatism. Too audacious and you’re living in a fantasy. To pragmatic and you’re not going to care about your plan.

But after we discussed each and every point on our lists, including the audacious ones that made me cringe to say out loud, I‌ realized something. If I’m afraid to say something out loud, how will I‌ ever hope to create it in real life?

Fears and objections

I’m afraid of sounding stupid, delusional, ridiculous, greedy and narcissistic. But if my five-year plans make me feel that way, it means I’m not properly aligned with them.

(Note that I’m calling them “five-year plans”, not “five-year dreams”. Dreams are all well and good, but they feel very someday. Everything on my list is something I’m working toward in the real world. These are ideas I’m bringing into physical reality – dreams tend to live in your head.)

If I‌ was fully aligned with everything on my list, there would be no inner resistance to them. I might feel challenged by them, but I’d know on a gut level that I‌ was absolutely capable of them.

Upgrading my character

Part of setting audacious five-year goals is becoming the type of person who resonates with those goals. It’s about getting rid of all the mental boundaries around them. It’s about transforming thoughts like, “this is delusional” into “this is a stretch but absolutely within my capabilities”. It’s not so much about taking action – though that’s a massive part of it – but transforming who‌ I am and how I‌ think.

That’s what excites me most – pushing my own boundaries, raising the ceiling, and growing my character.

Practicing courage through transparency

As such, I’ve decided to publicly share my five-year plans on this blog and write about the process. One thing I‌ love about Pat Flynn is how transparent he is with his business – his monthly income reports are downright inspirational. I want to be transparent about my life’s journey in hopes that you can find inspiration here as well.

My gut lurches a little at sharing this so openly, but it’s an opportunity for me to lean into courage, my primary word for 2020.

I‌ hope you’ll share the journey with me. It’s going to be a ride. 🙂

-Allysia

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Loose Threads

Hey, did you know I started going live every day on my personal YouTube channel? I’ll be doing it every day for an unknown amount of time. I haven’t set any parameters, but I’m aiming for 30 days to see how it feels. It’s an experiment!

In today’s live video, I shared my stack of “to read” books. Most of them are about writing, so I finally cracked one open and started on the exercises.

The book I’m currently going through is called “One Year to a Writing Life” by Susan Tiberghien. The first exercises involve journaling, and then targeting a particular image from your journal entry to expand upon in free-form style. I’ve shared it below.

-x

Loose threads. A frayed rope. Bits and scraps of thread shed onto the floor like dandruff. The rope is slack, a lazy S shape, and I’ve long since stopped tugging it. I just let it lie where it lies. Sometimes I vie for tight control; marching orders, appropriate tension, twisting the rope ends together and wetting them back into position. But now, I’m too distracted. All of my energy is elsewhere. The frayed edges collect dust, rope scraps on the floor untended to. Later, I’ll pick up the pieces. When I can summon my full attention. When it matters to me. 

Times for tension and times for release. Times to make things happen and times to let things happen. Times to grip and pull and tug, and times to let go and stare into space. 

This is a moment in time. I’m stepping into the flow. All alone, float away on a river, finally I can sleep.

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