It shouldn’t be so hard to unsubcribe, but it is.
I feel guilty about unsubscribing from email newsletters.
Do you ever feel that way?
You’re checking your personal email account & there’s this one newsletter you just skip over when you see it. Like, it doesn’t even register in your mind when they email you anymore. Your eyes just skip past like it’s not even there at all.
One day, you realize you have a lot of unread emails. You take a closer look at them & see The Newsletter.
“Oh, I forgot I receive their emails still. Boy, there sure are a lot of them. All of them are unread.”
“When was the last time I opened one?”
Sometimes you only pay notice because the sender sends you one of those “Hey, let me know if you still want to receive my emails” emails, which typically inform you it’s been like a year since you even OPENED one, much less read it.
Or it’s a newsletter that has good information that has helped you in the past. Sure, you might open them, but you always make them unread without reading them so you can read them at some point in the future.
You say to yourself,
“There’s at least a hundred of these clogging up my inbox! I have 3,052 unread emails, but I feel like none of them are really important.”
You take a look at The Newsletter.
“Pretty boring. Why did I even sign up for it? Oh, that’s right. I got a free ebook if I did.”
You scroll down to the bottom to click the “unsubscribe” button. Should be pretty easy. You haven’t read The Newsletter in more than a year, the information is often mediocre, or maybe it’s a store you don’t really shop at.
But that’s when the sweat starts running down your face. Your finger or your cursor hovers, as uncertain as a chihuahua at an airport, over the unsubscribe button.
“But I LIKE supporting this company. If I’m not following them, this poor person is going to go out of business.” You say, if the email in question is the newsletter of a small business.
No, they won’t. You’re not doing them any favors by not reading their newsletter. All you’re doing is potentially costing them money if they have to pay for a certain number of subscribers, & making their send-to-open ratio a whole lot lower. If you’re not buying from them, & you never open their newsletter, you are not actually helping them, only feeling like you are. So unless it’s your mom’s business & you’re her only email subscriber, if you don’t open or ever buy from the newsletter, HIT THAT UNSUBSCRIBE BUTTON.
“But SOMETIMES I learn something interesting.” You say, if the newsletter in question is informative.
Yes, you might. BUT ONLY IF YOU OPEN AND READ IT. You are literally learning nothing by staying subscribed to a newsletter you never read. NADA. So here, you must face a choice: either begin opening & READING these emails so you can learn what you should have been learning anyways, or HIT THAT UNSUBSCRIBE BUTTON.
“But sometimes they have good coupons! I don’t want to miss out on a sale. What if they have something I might want?” You say, looking at the marketing newsletter from a medium/large.
A classic case of FOMO. You don’t wanna unsubscribe from the Groupon newsletter because sometimes they have sales you want to take advantage of. FINE. But if you never open the newsletters or never use the coupons they send (NEWSFLASH: probably because you don’t actually like shopping there are much as you think you do), YOU ARE NOT HELPING YOURSELF OR THE COMPANY. Also, especially if it’s a large company, literally hundreds or even THOUSANDS of people might unsubscribe from it daily. To them, you’re just a number. They’re not going to go out of business because you unsubscribed. No tears will be shed in the marketing department when you HIT THAT UNSUBSCRIBE BUTTON.
Moral of the story: if you never read it, never use it, or don’t need to use it, HIT THAT UNSUBSCRIBE BUTTON. No one who creates the newsletter is probably going to cry over you unsubscribing. There’s really no reason to feel guilty about unsubscribing.
And here’s the most magical part of all: if at some point in the future, you realize you miss the newsletter…
YOU CAN SUBSCRIBE TO IT AGAIN!
*cues balloons & confetti
And if you’re afraid of forgetting the newsletter, write down a list somewhere of what you have unsubscribed from.
You really have nothing to lose by unsubscribing. So how about you hit that unsubscribe button & experiment with not getting the newsletter, at least for a while.
Try unsubscribing. You might just like it.
Because the adult never had to come at the exclusion of the childlike.
“It was illusion, the way they told me being grown-up had to hurt,They told me happiness was all a scam,All around me I saw adults falling, into the depths of the rat raceThey’d created, thought it was the way it had to beBut they were just trying to sell escapes to you & they were jealous of your dreams”
the application of typical elements of game playing (e.g. point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity, typically as an online marketing technique to encourage engagement with a product or service.
- Giving cool, fun names to tasks that aren’t necessarily inherently fun. Instead of “clean your pet cages”, the task can be called & thought of as “caring for your precious zoo animals”. Instead of shopping, you’re Indiana Jones hunting for a treasured artifact or a hero gathering survival supplies or a pirate digging for buried gold.
- Treating everything like a quest. Pretend everything is a quest or a step necessary to achieve a quest, or pretend you’re an awesome character as you’re going about your daily tasks (either a character from fiction, history, or your own creation).
- Breaking things down into smaller, more manageable steps. Instead of trying to clean your bathroom all at the same time, try cleaning just one different part of it every day. Sundays, you might just clean the mirror. Mondays, you might mop. Tuesdays, you might wipe down the counter. Etc. This makes tasks seem less overwhelming & therefore, more likely to get done.
- Making sure playfulness is a prominent part of daily life. Use your imagination more to tell stories about what you’re doing & who you are, just like when you were a kid. Take time each day to actually do something playful, whether you actually play or experiment or explore objects/places or even just a fun game on your phone. And if you’re too busy any given day to do that, at the very least you can approach problems & situations with a playful mindset.
- Let yourself feel free. Try to see the world again through responsible, but childlike, eyes. Is it really the end of the world if you don’t tackle the WHOLE pile of dishes on the counter? Try to spend less time stressing out about all the things you think you’re not doing well enough at & take more time to just be. Flow through the day. Take your time. Give yourself some space to breathe. Take breaks. Let yourself change course or activities as the mood strikes you. My epic Florida road trip was very playful, but as I was the only one caring for myself, I also was entirely self-reliant.
- Start being accountable for the results of your life. I was googling the idea of self-reliance when I came across this awesome quote from The Art of Manliness’ article, “Developing a Self-Reliant Mindset“. “[…] while it’s easy to get by by having other people do everything for you, ‘the trouble is, when you’re not self-reliant, you’ll never do more than just get by’.” I think that quote is one of the most important things I’ve ever heard. The truth is that nobody cares as much about your world or your environment or your dreams as you do, so if you’re always blaming others for how things turn out or when you don’t get what you want or always putting the responsibility on them to make things happen for you, you’re always going to be let down. Start accepting responsibility. Why? When you hand responsibility off to someone else, you’re in a sort of disempowered “victim” mindset. But when you take responsibility & look at your life & can healthily say, “Yes, it’s my fault that this didn’t turn out right.” You’re acknowledging yourself as source of the problem. But when you’re the problem, you’re also empowering yourself to be the SOLUTION. If it’s your problem, you can also fix it.
19 goals for an awesome year.
This isn’t a TOTALLY comprehensive list of my 2019 goals. First off, it would change too many times so I’m always changing & adding to it. Second, I like keeping some goals secrets until I’ve actually done them so then they can be surprises. And third, it would be too long 😀
Anyways, here is a list of 19 of my top goals for 2019.
Write, direct, produce, & publish a feature film.
I’ve wanted to make an ACTUAL film for a long time. I didn’t make any short films at all from mid-2015-most of 2018 but now I’m making a bunch. I have a ton of great ideas & a vision for what the film would be like, & I think as a filmmaker it’s an amazing goal to make something longer than a short film, not to mention a fun challenge!
Build a cement roadside dinosaur.
I AM OBSESSED WITH ROADSIDE DINOSAURS. I found this article of all the ones in Florida. I’ve seen several of them but someday I’d like to see them all. And I hope to seeing the Cabazon Dinosaurs this year in my travels. AND I’m photographing cement roadside dinosaurs for a photography book I’m making. But this year, I’d like to MAKE a roadside dinosaur so other people can enjoy a new one too.
Start a circus.
I don’t know what format it will be in or how it will be structured, but I would LOVE to start a circus full of amazing acts. Circuses (that don’t involve animals, I must note) are amazing & so seriously funky & whimsical so it would be so super cool to START A CIRCUS.
Set up a funky museum.
I want the THEME of it to be a surprise, but you can bet it’ll be funky, totally surprising, & one-of-a-kind. It will likely be small, weird, & one of those awesome attractions you’d find on Atlas Obscura. Collecting & curating a specialty collection & creating a really special place where people can gather & marvel at how weird & wacky the world is, is a big goal of mine.
Buy an used ice cream truck.
I’m not sure what I’ll use it for (I have SOME ideas though!) but it too will be amazing & funky. I just love the whimsical idea of owning one.
Write & publish 12+ books.
In 2016 I did 10. In 2017 I did 11. In 2018 I did 12. I have so many great books in the works & I am SO EXCITED to be putting them out in 2019. Oh, & in 2019 I’ll also publish my 100th book! Woohoo! As of the publication of this article, I’ve already published already!
Take a mini vacation each month.
I live in the Grand Old State of Florida, & despite what my teenaged self believed, there are TONS of great places to visit & amazing things to do without even leaving my state. Of course, I have some plans to travel a lot further than just within my state, but making the effort to go to a new place, at least for a day trip, each month sounds awesome. I want to visit the Florida Keys & Miami again & see more stuff in northern Florida! Currently, I haven’t got to do this yet for either January or February, so I guess I’ll just have to take two vacations in two of the months!
Publish 3 Udemy courses!
As of currently, I have FINALLY released my first course, “How to Make 3 Styles of Plush Bumblebees”. But what I’m most excited about is my super-comprehensive “101 Ways to Love Yourself” course, which should be out within the next few months, as well as a guided meditation course.
Make enough income from growing my business, books, music, art etc that I get to spend 95% of each day everyday doing things I enjoy & feeling great & making an abundant living working for myself.
Live a completely outlandish, magical day like Pippi Longstocking does in my favorite childhood movie “The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking” but with me being an adult American with parents
Get an acting role in a mid-to-big budget film.
I have wanted to do this since I was a kid, because I love acting & I love films. So why not?
Start living my version of the “Millionaire Lifestyle” regardless of whether I’m a millionaire (yet) or not.
I just read Tim Ferriss’ “The 4-Hour Workweek” for the first time & it’s one of the most inspiring books I’ve read. It’s made me realize that even without having a millionaire’s income (yet!) that I can still live the lifestyle I would live as a millionaire.
Walk a marathon.
As of me publishing this article, this has been done! It was super challenging & took me 8 hours of walking through a local park to achieve, but it taught me so much about resilience & I’m so proud I did it.
Go on a California road trip!
I’ve loved the idea of California for a long time, & they’ve got so many great things out there. Los Angeles, the redwoods, ostriches, oceans, & dinosaurs are just a few things I’m looking forward to seeing.
Upgrade my 10 gallon aquarium 55 gallon aquarium. I love my freshwater aquarium, where I keep some small catfish & minnows & a snail. When I was 11 I had a 20-gallon aquarium, but I want to get a nice big aquarium so my fish have more room to swim & so I can have a more robust tank. I will be adding live plants & more fish! By the end of the year, I also would like all my pet reptiles & amphibians to be in spacious, bioactive vivariums, & I want to find my dog a food or something that isn’t steroids that helps his chronic skin problems (Malassezia pachydermatis).
Build, grow, & turn my own special miniature world into something that takes on a life & space of its own so others can enjoy it & nourish& nurture it too.
Read 100 books.
Last year, I read 67 books (my goal was 75). But I hadn’t discovered the free Hoopla library of audiobooks until about halfway through the year. Or audiobooks in general. Audiobooks revolutionized reading for me. I have a lot of down time at work & driving time in general, so I can read a few books a week without spending additional time thanks to audiobooks!
Write & perform at an actual venue a successful one-person show.
It will be a mix of comedy, theatre, music, puppets, & good-old-fashioned quirkiness. SO EXCITED TO BRING THIS ONE TO YOU!
Grouped together, because these are smaller & easier to achieve, & don’t require their own paragraphs: go snorkeling with manatees, milk a cow (done!!!), camp overnight on an island, pick blueberries, pick oranges, go on a 40+ mile bike ride, attend the Strawberry Festival in Plant City FL, go to the Florida state fair (done!), eat at at least 10 restaurants I’ve never been to before (one so far!), photograph roadside dinosaurs, buy more vinyl albums, sit in the front row of a medium sized concert & shake hands with the band members (DONE!!!), complete a rope adventure course, complete an obstacle course, go indoor skydiving, touch a sloth, touch a flamingo, tour the deep Everglades, get into parkour, go pescetarian for a month, take at least a few circus arts classes, connect more spiritually with the Universe, & more.
Here’s to a freaking amazing year <3
I didn’t watch many for a long time because I got into this extreme hustle mode where if something didn’t seem absolutely productive, I cut it out. Many forms of “entertainment” were reduced or eliminated. I thought that only things that were educational mattered.
“Actually, I feel like [the film that I’ve just seen] every time I come out of the cinema. If that film’s about being a hippie, then I’m like, ‘That’s it, I’m gonna grow my own vegetables.'”
“‘Aha’ moments [are subconscious only once you have] the ideas that pop into consciousness. And scientists have found that the way to have more of them is to consume more. […] What you find is that these great creators are actually mass consumers of culture because if you wanna connect the dots, you have to have the dots to actually connect.”
Consuming RELEVANT entertainment can add to your mental toolbox & help you create better things.
- The character development
- The unsaid things behind what a (good) actor is physically expressing
- The acting & how the actors show certain emotions, or develop the mannerisms of their characters, etc. Then I can emulate their acting of a scene & learn boatloads about acting. I mean, there are some scenes in movies that have taught me more about acting than anything else (example: the suicide scenes [1, 2] in Lethal Weapon taught me how good acting is subtle but strong). Character observation is invaluable to my development as an actress & as a fiction writer.
- How does the story unfold?
- How does it match the “beats” described in Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat?
- What makes it funny? Are there moments of comedic tension among an otherwise dark film?
- What makes the antagonist so creepy & hate-worthy?
- What makes you care about the protagonists? Why do you love these characters so much?
- How does the story build in suspense?
- What is the climax like & how did they set up the rest of the film for that? Does the climax, or any other scene, contain callbacks to earlier scenes?
Etc etc etc. This is invaluable for my work as a writer & a screenwriter.
I also consider the filmmaking process itself:
- How was the movie filmed?
- What cinematography elements do they use?
- How do they build the feel of the world they’re trying to create?
- Do they use certain lenses to make it look darker or more magical?
- What angles do they use? What makes those angles effective? How do they switch between camera angles & why?
- What flashbacks do they use, & what specific shots of those do they use & why?
- Why were the stylistic choices that were made, made?
- How did the director work with each member of the crew, especially the actors, to achieve the end result?
- How was the film edited together? Why was it edited that way?
- How were the stunts performed?
- How were the sets built?
- Where did they put the equipment so it wasn’t visible in that shot? Etc.
All of which are vital lessons in directing & filmmaking.
- Side one of that is why the costume designers picked those outfits for those characters. What does each item of clothing they’re wearing & their physical appearance say about them as a character? How does a character’s clothing inform us of small details of that character that otherwise wouldn’t be spoken about? How do those clothes help the actor feel like their character?
- And side two. If I incorporate that item of clothing they’re wearing, how will I feel? What do I want my clothes to say about me? Not to mention the boat-ton of excellent OUTFITS that I want to get or make myself because I STILL love emulating characters or copying their fashion vibes. Because as a fashion designer, those types of insights are also invaluable. And until you see how the clothes make the character & how the outfit moves on them…looking at still photos can’t do a lot of outfits justice.
On top of ALL THOSE BENEFITS, watching movies is FUN.
It helps me level up my life.
I explain the details & reasons behind everything on my brand SHOP Ashlee Craft’s new logo.
Our new logo! First off, I didn’t really have an official logo. Second, I wanted a cute, playful logo that represents what my brand has become.
Here’s the why behind every part of the logo:
- DINOSAURS. I LOVE dinosaurs & they’re super funky & wonderful, so I knew I needed to put one in my logo. I own so much awesome dinosaur stuff. Dinosaurs are effing adorable & they’re so weird & I love them.
- BALLOONS. Balloons are super cute (& I think I was inspired to add them partially because of what a cheerful symbol they are in the movie Christoper Robin). Originally they were just going to be regular balloons, because HEY! WHAT’S BETTER THAN A DINOSAUR HOLDING A BUNCH OF BALLOONS? But then I realized there actually WAS something better. BALLOONS WITH CUTE FACES. And the colors of the balloons are based on my favorite rainbow color scheme, which I have used in other designs like my “I Love the Universe” design & my “It’s All Uphill From Here“.
- THE KITE. Originally there was going to be a fifth balloon, but at the last minute I thought about my own joy from flying kites (especially on the beach just as the moon is coming out) so I put one in the middle with a rainbow, so the kite itself could be blue (to complete the rainbow-esque yellow/red/purple/pink color scheme from the balloons) & because rainbows are a symbol of joy, vibrant living, magic, playfulness, funkiness, the LGBTQIA+ community, hope, & my own little special world. Kites also have those wonderful kite bows, which I love drawing.
- THE FONT. Quicksand (a free Google Font!) is the font for the text, because it’s one of my absolute favorite fonts, text is black because yellow + black is one of my favorite contrast color combos.
- THE CIRCLE. The circle is yellow obviously because yellow is my favorite color EVER, & the shape is round because it’s a nice happy shape & it makes it look like the sun. And the yellow sun shape reminds me on a subconscious level of the white sun circle in Neil Innes’ totally weird but awesome “Concrete Jungle Boy” music video, now that I think of it 😂
I’m totally happy with how the logo turned out & I love how bright & funky & playful it is! 🌈❤️🧡💛💚💙💜💖🖤
I started out in the blackest pit, but I could still see a small patch of yellow sunlight as I lied in the bottom of the hole. I scribbled on papers around me; this time I’m going to get out this time I’m going to get out. With moist yearning eyes I raised my eyes towards the sky & hoped that some bit of warmth would make its way through to the inside.
That I would not only make it, but making SOMETHING of it. Something I could be proud of.
The roaring cacophony of quiet drowned out myself as I stood at the edge of a sea I had no knowledge of, falling into the same coping pattern I had always escaped from radical change by using.
She stood at the top of the pit, spitting down onto me & shrieking with laughter. I was dragged through the dirt. They threw putrid mud down into the hole, cackling at my inability to rise up. I numbed out, tried to dissociate from my experience in any way possible. Even if the whole numbing was a temporary fix, a question, possibly dangerous. But it couldn’t be more dangerous than it would be to leave me unchecked, left to my own devices, exposed & able to do worse things. She was not my worst enemy, nor was he, nor were they. I was. So I faded back just enough that I could crawl through each day & wake up again the next. Never enough time. That was okay though, maybe better. But I could never escape enough.
Was there really anything beautiful about acting as the tragic figure I’d written myself to be, but never really wanted to become?
I had just come out of the whirlpool with the new knowledge that what I had been seeking HAD NOT BEEN THERE. I finally had the experience, but it was worth much less than the price of admission.
Then the world exploded; all that I knew fell out from under me & was replaced, rebuilt, reinvented.
In the best way possible.
I woke up one day. It felt sudden, but I’d been slowly waking up for the past few weeks. And it struck me as soon as sunlight touched my skin: I was becoming sad less often. I had realized my sorrow for what it was: an illusion I had firmly believed in & lived, but one that didn’t have to be real for me any longer. It HAD been real: the pain was too fresh, the blood too vivid, the scars too deep for it to have been all in my mind. But as easily as it had planted its deadly seed deep inside the soil of my meadow, I could slowly pull the roots out from under the soil & destroy the plant before it destroyed the whole world I saw. The whole world I wanted to believe in.
And once I realized I had let the tiny yearning to feel something, the tiny yearning to understand melancholy, grow to such ugly proportions, it began to dissolve. It ceased to grow. It began to fade back into the darkness which it had come from.
And then another day, I woke up & realized I wasn’t sad anymore.
I have discovered that joy is always more interesting than sorrow. Each day I bask in the pure gloriousness of living that way. I am already a success. The binary of success & failure has always been an illusion. I have cut the threads holding me to what I once was: afraid of the future & afraid of what people would think. And now I am myself again.
I have finally decided what world I want to live in.
I do not have to beat myself down & stay hidden & bleeding under the highway overpass in the darkest night. There is a whole other world on top of this one, layers of worlds, & I am the explorer discovering them all. Each one feeling better than the next, & I am the one finally letting myself feel good. The world I lived in was not tied to circumstance, but to choice. My choice.
I have seen both sides of the coin. I have lived in both dimensions. Both are equally as real, but it is always me who decides which one I will live in. And by the simple shift in perspective; flipping the switch & crawling through folds of energy until I am firmly back on the level I rebirthed myself on. The Vortex is real.
The Universe always had my back. It was always sitting there, hidden in the back row but cheering the loudest of all. It was always rooting for me even when I was afraid that I was in the wrong place at the wrong time doing the wrong thing. Just when I thought all the lights had gone out, the Universe always showed up holding candles, slipping a crumpled piece of paper into my hand which contained a clue for what I should do next.
I found myself. She sat there alone & frightened, but I brought her back into the light. Alone on that dark sacred highway at night, as I drove under the warm yellow streetlights illuminating the smooth dark highway, with the jazz playing deep & quiet & ineffable in the background. & the feeling bubbled up inside me, it frightened me because it was so strong & so sudden, the pure vibrating eternal radiance of the sincerest relieved joy. I found myself on that drive home on the pitch-dark highway as I trusted in the golden radiance & recorded the exact color of moonlight on my arm. The moon shone down around me on the sacred fields & the tiny farmhouse & the sleeping cattle, quiet & smiling & deeply nurturing in the pale blue sacred light.
It turns out, the environment I most needed to change was the environment inside me.
And there I was, slowly & quietly chipping away at the darkness which had held me back for so long. Slowly building a better foundation, brick by brick.
I was afraid to let myself be happy because I was so used to being sad & afraid that a future that felt good was also an uncertain one. At least with sorrow, I had its cold stale hand to hold, a familiarity I knew I could always return to. With sorrow, at least I knew what my future would feel like & how I would cope with it.
When I realized it had all been a sham, the walls shattered, & I found myself free in a meadow of sunlight.
What had once been a darkness I relished & lovingly extracted every ounce of pain from now became a song I’d never liked but heard play too many times on the radio. My old standby patterns weren’t beautiful & tragic – they were just boring, & didn’t allow half enough time for me to merely exist & simply be. Too much of it was shrouded in routine & in monotonous pandering to the politics touted by over-idolized figures I wanted nothing to do with.
Sometimes before I would wonder what it would be like to disappear & reappear somewhere else, my future free & with my slate cleaned.
No baggage to carry, no fight against my own glass ceiling upper limits. And in a way, I have. I have found the hidden door in the forest, concealed behind twisted wooden vines, & I have stepped firmly from the land of darkness & into the light. I have approached the door & grasped the gold handle, stepped in the fallen leaves & heard the crunch of the new moon in the starless sky. I have stood in sudden afternoon light holding that door handle, hand frozen, afraid to move forward, refusing to accept that I AM WORTHY ALREADY.
Too separated to accept that the Universe will always love me anyways.
Too devastated by the secret knowledge that all along, another world has been parading in tandem with this one, & I could have stepped into it at any moment had I been ready sooner.
And then I opened the door.
Sunlight spilled forth. I trust you, I trust you. I picked the road leading in the direction of the same breeze I’d felt on the beach & in the city, one which wordlessly murmurs of home. And I have found that home.
The whole world is fresh. The whole world has been reborn. The Phoenix has risen from the ashes, ready to believe in its own greatness again. She would be proud if she saw me, to see what she becomes. To see she becomes the person she needed when she was a kid.
I know now that I have what it takes & have the tools to do anything & become anything that I choose to. The whole world is new, & yet it’s been there all along, waiting for me. Everything looks different, everything feels different, because now I see everything through the lens of vibrant optimism instead of the mournful, violent grays of sadness. I realized I have a choice in how I feel & what world I choose to see. In whether I struggle to survive, or flourish & thrive.
I feel like I finally decided which world I want to live in.
I have found the magic again.
I finally gathered the things I need in order to know how to thrive.
I think I have finally cured my depression.
I have been depressed for ten years. And that is enough. And I think I’ve finally beat it.
Unlike other times I thought I had won, my healing was not due to willpower, or by forcing myself out of the darkness with willpower alone & convincing myself that I did indeed feel better.
Instead, everything changed because I changed my environment into one which allowed me to gather tools & learn how to use them & manipulate them into the things I needed to be. And most importantly, an environment that let me use them.
After almost a decade of being (never formally diagnosed, but I know how I’ve felt) clinically depressed, I finally feel like I’ve actually won. I’ve had my moments before of triumph, of discovering some secret that let me be happy for sometimes months at a time. But it was never like this before.
See, every time I felt “cured” before, I was always afraid that it was all in my head. That one day, the depression would come crashing back down on me. I never could believe that maybe I was actually cured. Because the other times, the feeling of “cured” had come about so suddenly that I usually couldn’t see a logical reason for why I felt that way. Not to say that those times of being cured didn’t mean anything, because they meant a great deal. It’s just that they couldn’t last because there was no concrete reason for WHY I felt cured.
And mostly it was because despite my “healing”, I was still the exact same person inside. I was still just a depressed person experiencing happiness for a while.
But this time, it’s different. And this time, I’m not afraid.
Because this time, my healing wasn’t this sudden miracle that happened out of the blue. My healing was a slow, deliberate process. It’s been a long time coming, but I feel like it finally might be here. And I feel like this time, it’s going to last.
I have finally learned the tools & put systems in place that are necessary to keep myself happy. I have built those tools & used those tools & figured out how to best make them work for me. I have molded those tools into systems & new actions & new ways of responding to life. I have built a solid foundation out of these tools. I have used these tools to become a different person.
This is why I believe my happiness foundation is stable now. It’s didn’t happen by magic; it happened by gathering & learning tools, & by using them.
Author & speaker Darren Hardy says that learning is the ability to produce a result. If you haven’t produced the desired result, you haven’t learned it yet.
Since January this year, I’ve been part of author Benjamin Hardy’s outstanding 52 Weeks of Momentum course/mentorship group. Thanks to being part of the group, I’ve read the most amazing combination of high-level books that I’ve read in any year, ever. My mind has linked together so many concepts between various books & I’ve had numerous breakthroughs that have utterly changed my life.
Benjamin Hardy’s newest, best-selling book is called Willpower Doesn’t Work. The book centers around the idea that rather than using willpower to try to change your life, you need to change your environment so that it causes you to naturally become the kind of person you need to be. Once you’re the person you need to BE, you can do what you need to DO so you can have what you want to HAVE.
But the biggest thing this course has done for me was totally reinvent my mindset in the best way possible. The books I’ve read throughout the course, plus Benjamin Hardy’s mentorship, the exceptional other members of the group, & the course content have taught me a whole new mindset, which I then applied to my life in brilliant ways. Brilliant, especially the ways I am finally understanding how to apply them to my life.
In the middle of June, I had a huge mindset shift. Everything slowly began to change. I can’t name a specific THING that changed it; the assemblage & combined influence of everything I was learning & experiencing & doing in all aspects of my life finally were mixing together in the perfect way.
And over the next two months, I made a lot of changes that shifted my mindset majorly. I started listening to podcasts & audiobooks in my car & at work whenever I could. I filled my mind with high-level stuff & surrounded myself with the environment & the people I needed to be around, to the best of my abilities. I committed to eating healthy & exercising. I committed to living a life that I loved. I started committing to caring for myself & my goals first, prioritizing them above the noise of the rest of the world. Because if I am not shining as bright as I can for myself, how am I supposed to be a light for others?
In the back of my mind, I guess I realized it. A lot of difficult things happened in the span of those two months, things that tested this new person I was becoming. But in the back of my mind, I still knew it was true.
I was slowly becoming less depressed. Slowly becoming deeply & unequivocally happy.
The sun rises slowly, & we still see darkness until we realize the sky has become light again. I didn’t usually realize how the depression was fading & happiness was becoming a more predominant emotion until I realized.
It turns out, the environment I most needed to change was the environment inside me. And there I was, slowly & quietly chipping away at the darkness which had held me back for so long. Slowly building a better foundation, brick by brick.
Then the breakthrough happened. And the foundation was suddenly recognizable as a foundation.
And I heard this phrase:
“[…] train the body to be the mind in order to live a predicable future based on a memory of a known past.”
And he talks about how when something happens & you feel a certain way, your body remembers the way it feels, it keeps firing those neurons together until they wire together. If they fire & wire together for long enough, eventually the emotion from that singular incident can end up becoming your personality.
That’s when I had my breakthrough.
All or at least most of my depression throughout the past decade most likely stemmed from my first bout of it that I experienced when I was 14.
At 14, the feelings of depression were new & interesting & mysterious. I reveled in them, wanted to explore them because I’d never quite felt that way before. I felt a sense of connection with others, even fictional characters, who felt that way. So feeling depressed became a way of feeling connected to something bigger & more interesting than myself.
And because that was my mindset, whenever something happened, I’d feel like it was a relevant time to feel depressed. Something along the lines of, “If I am a depressed person, this would be a time that I should feel depressed so I will look for those feelings of depression in this situation until I find them.” So I replayed the feelings in my mind, felt depressed, & did it all over again.
I’m not saying none of my depression would have happened if it wouldn’t have experienced that first episode & found it so interesting. I think it’s likely I still would have experienced depression from time to time naturally due to fluctuations in brain chemistry. And I’m not saying what worked for me will necessarily help you feel better. But I’m sharing this here because I hope it helps someone. Because it helped me. And I want you to know it DOES get better.
This cycle of feeling depressed & finding it interesting began to grow on its own. Out of my control. Then it wasn’t so interesting anymore. Then it was something I had to struggle through. Something I had to fight off ferociously so that it would never succeed in its desperate efforts to push my head under the water & keep it there. Sometimes, it took everything I had to just to push it away one more time. It would retreat for a while, but hours or days or months later, there it would be again. It became darker & harder to control as it grew.
The depression became a big part of my personality. It became an addiction, in a way. I almost felt incomplete without it.
I tried feeling better. I used all the willpower I could muster up. Tried to force myself out of it. Pulled myself up by my bootstraps, time & time again. Sometimes I felt “cured”. But like I said, I was still the same person inside. Still a depressed person deep down who was trying to be happy. I still didn’t have any foundation in place to make the good feelings stick around.
Since the beginning of the year, I’ve really been trying. I’ve been learning. And I’ve been taking action on what I learned. But it was just over the past few weeks that it finally all clicked.
Admittedly, I was afraid to move on from depression. Terrified to let go of it actually. Because after having it for so long, I was terrified that if I moved on from the depressed feelings, I’d always feel like something was missing. That my art & my personality would be lame & one-note without it. That in the back of my mind, I would always be longing to feel those feelings again. Craving them.
But the quote from Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself not only showed me the cause of my often depression-based personality, but also why I was afraid of moving on from it.
A memory of the known past.
I was afraid to let myself be happy because I was so used to being depressed that a happy future was also an uncertain one. At least with my depression, I had its cold stale hand to hold, a familiarity I knew I could always return to. With depression, at least I knew what my future would feel like & how I would cope with it.
But once I realized both the cause of my depression & the reason it was terrifying to move away from it, it all became so flimsy, like a house of cards in the breeze.
And then all it became was something in my past. Not who I was anymore. Not who the future fated me to be.
I started being able to see myself as someone that a joyful, vibrant future was possible for, & I’ve never felt that so deeply before. I tear up a little bit as I write this, because five years ago, I never could have fathomed a future as full of possibility as the one I’m able to see now. Back then, it always seemed like all the future could hold was more darkness, more depression, & more emptiness. I didn’t know how I was going to deal with all of that, unrelenting, year after year. But now, I feel the deepest confidence & faith in myself that I not only will everything be okay, but I will too because I’ve become the kind of person now who will always find a way to thrive.
I am going to keep adding new tools to my toolbox. I will keep searching & seeking & exploring & finding new ones to add to it. Especially when it comes to something as important as mental health, it’s vital that you don’t become complacent. This is something I will always be tweaking & improving & discovering new things about. I recognize that being cured is still dependent on me building & maintaining the foundation I have built. But I know how.
And I’m not saying that I will never feel down again. I assume that at some point, I will. It’s just that I will never let it become part of my personality EVER again.
Because now, I finally have a sign that I’m heading in the right direction.
I am filled with an expansive playfulness & enthusiasm towards life & towards the kind of future that I can not only build for myself, but use to light the way for others too.
I feel genuinely transformed. Instead of being world-wearied & fearful when I think of the future, I am filled with a deep, unrelenting confidence now. The confidence that whatever happens, I have the tools & know how to keep being the person who can handle it.
And I am exceptionally excited to see what comes next.
In light of my recent vacation to Denver, Colorado (WHICH I AM GOING TO POST AN EPIC ARTICLE ABOUT IN THE NEAR FUTURE) I’ve considered this question.
Would I rather be at home, or would I rather be traveling?
On one hand, traveling is totally AMAZING. You have the opportunity to see & so fantastic things & have wonderful, life-enriching experiences. You get to see & do things most of the people you know have never done or seen. You have a whole smorgasbord of new experiences & places & foods & people & environments at your fingertips.
But traveling can also be exhausting. Airport layovers. Connecting flights. CANCELLED FLIGHTS. Just the overall crazy busy action of cramming days’ worth of activities into a single day & trying to “get your money’s worth” & optimize every minute of your (short) vacation so you can see & do as much as you can in the time you have. Before you have to go back home.
But HOME is also amazing. You have your comfortable familiar bed. Your beloved family & pets. Your cozy routine of drinking tea in the morning & going shopping & working on your art. You have the rooms you decorated with incredible care to make their vibes perfect, & the sweet pets you raised from babies, & the time to go about your day at your own pace. Everything is familiar & certain & comfortable. It’s easy being at home.
But home can also be bland & monotonous. It’s the same environment you’re always in. Most of the experiences you’ll have today at home are the same ones you had yesterday. It’s easy to fall into the trap of familiarity & allow every day to be basically the same.
But traveling feels so good. It feels good to escape your comfort zone & throw yourself into an environment which is surprising & novel & filled with adventures to be had. The confidence & joy you gain from traveling is unmatched by almost anything at home.
But coming home feels so good too. It feels good to be safe, to be nurtured, to have a cozy den to retreat to. A place to support you as you become bigger & better versions of yourself. The comfort & joy you gain from being at home is unmatched by almost anything while traveling.
So this is my answer:
I love both. I love traveling just as much as I love being at home.
Both fulfill different needs of mine. Both are excellent in their own turns.
Travel informs home of fresh ideas & concepts & memories & experiences. That makes home more interesting. And home informs travel of a common thread of familiarity that runs through any destination, where you start to feel like you can make yourself at home anywhere.
And if you didn’t have home, travel would be overwhelming. And if you didn’t have travel, it wouldn’t feel so darn good to have a home to return to.
Both need each other, & you need both.
Together, travel & home are opposites that join together to make one well-rounded, exceptional life.
- Become a self-made millionaire. This is my top goal because it will help a lot of my other goals happen. I’m going out there to get the good things that I deserve. I do this because I love myself, & I also love a good challenge.
- Start eating healthy consistently & exercising daily. Over the past year, I have IMPROVED, but I’m still way behind where I’d like to be as far as healthy habits. I know I could do better. I end up only eating 1-2 servings of vegetables a day. This is due to my “addiction” to processed sugar & non-vegetable foods. I also walk a bit each day, but I can be quite sedentary at times & don’t exercise the recommended 30 minutes a day. Sometimes, I also eat too much sugar. But I want to eat healthier, I know it will help me feel my best & have the most energy, so I’m going to do this.
- Live with passion every day. Like Tony Robbins talks about. I’m going to make 2018 my happiest year yet. Making sure I’m living with passion & taking time for self-care are habits that will help me do this.
- Publish more books. This year’s book list includes: my Epic Florida Road Trip book. A photography album of artistic photos of the Tampa Bay area. A seven-zine series of photos I took on my road trip. The second zine in my Flowers series of photography zines. A zine of botanical garden photos. Several poetry books. My essay book, Not a Dime a Dozen. A Tarot card dictionary. Several more books for my Wonderful Wildlife & 50 Adorable Facts animal series. The second book in the Summer Hayes series. More issues of Assemblage.
- Release my third album of music. I released my second album, “confusion is over”, in 2015. I’ve done some cover songs, but I have not released any more albums or singles since then.
- Get a pet tortoise & pet crested geckos. I’m currently prepping for a red foot tortoise hatchling right now & I’m doing a ton of research. Tortoises are fascinating & so sweet. I’m really looking forward to adding one to my critter family. Sometime later in the year, I plan on getting some baby crested geckos too.
- Create & release my first Udemy course. I’m working on a course RIGHT NOW that’s based on my 101 Ways to Love Yourself course. I still have a pretty long way to go on it, but it’s going to be an amazing, comprehensive course. It will have more than 100 videos, many worksheets, podcast versions of each episode, & much more.
- Go to A LOT more amazing concerts & other awesome places/events. I have some of these activities planned already. I’m making sure I always have something to look forward to doing. I learned in the past year that adding to my “experience library” is something that adds immense value to my life.
- Release at least two more apps for iOS devices. Last year, I released my “Adorable Fall Stickers” app for iOS devices, & I have a few more apps in the works.
- Travel to a state I’ve never been to, travel somewhere else in Florida, & travel to another country. This was on the list last year. I did go somewhere else in Florida & to another state, both of which were goals on the previous list. I’m refreshing this goal because I want to do the same thing this year but with different places.
- Become a certified ethical hacker. Ethical hacking has always fascinated me. If nothing more it will help me educate myself about web security for my own benefit. I bought the Udemy course, & now I just have to DO THE COURSE.
- Go on another road trip. An RV would be amazing to help me achieve my road trip goals. I would love the feeling of being able to have a mini-home I can take anywhere.
- Buy an RV. An RV would be amazing to help me achieve my road trip goals, & I would love the feeling of being able to have a mini-home I can take anywhere.
- Become a life coach. I love helping & coaching other people achieve their goals & live their best lives. I realized that last year, so becoming a life coach is definitely going to be something I pursue in 2018.
- Direct, produce, write, film, & act in a full-length indie film. This was on last year’s list & I didn’t do it. Which means I HAVE to do it this year. I love film, I love acting, & I think it would be super-awesome to actually make my own film. I’ve completed four short films, but I’m taking the bull by the horns this time & making a feature-length film.
- Expand my network & make genuine friends. Everybody can benefit from this, & it’s something I definitely need to do. It’s also outside of my current comfort zone, so you know what that means? I have to do it to grow.
- Get all the domains I have purchased but never made websites out of made into websites & making money for me. I currently own 10 or 11 domains, & I’m only using three of them. I’ve owned some of the domains for years & still haven’t made them public. This is embarrassing. They’re sitting around costing me money & no one can see them. So VERY SOON, all these sites are going to be up & running, & I’m going to post links to them on this blog when I do!
- Become a fashion designer & start selling my first original clothing design. I have some great designs that I will release over the next few months. I’m so excited about seeing them when they’re done. I’ll be even more thrilled to be able to wear them myself, & being able to share them with others.
- Walk a marathon. Last year, I walked a 5k. I need to challenge myself physically. I don’t enjoy running, but I did want a goal that was out of my (current) league, so I chose this. I know it will require a lot of training, but I’m ready to train. This will also help me achieve my goal of making 2018 my healthiest year yet.
- Launch several products that I have in the works. Many of these are things I’ve wanted to do for forever. It’s time I made them something you can buy!
- Complete all the online courses I have purchased. I bought them, & like my domains, they can’t benefit me until I use them.
- Read 75 books. In 2016, I read almost no books. In 2017, I read 57 books. My goal for 2018 is 75 books. Another stretch goal, but I’m going to do my best! Besides, for a book-lover like me, the idea of reading 75 books & gaining all that knowledge makes me drool.
- Interview more people for my blog. I love doing this, & I have a few people slated for this right now. It’s so much fun, I love the value I’m able to provide whomever I’m interviewing, & I always learn a ton.
- Grow my online store. I have so many products, product ideas, & new designs that I can’t wait to show you!
- Become more of a minimalist. I made progress here in the last year (it was on the 2017 list too) but I have a lot more progress to make. To echo what I said in my 2017 blurb about it,
“This means excluding things – physical things, mental things, wasted time, unhappiness – to make more room for the things that really do feel good. I’m not trying to have as few things as possible, but as many things that make me happy with as few unnecessary things as possible. I really like this quote from this article I was reading earlier, titled Like Henry David Thoreau, but with Wi-Fi. ‘Everything in my life become my favorite thing.’ I want to live my life like that. “
- Become a contributor to the Entrepreneur Magazine website. They’re one of my favorite websites. It would be an honor to be considered “good enough” to be a contributor. This will require me to improve & hone my writing skills, so it’s a good challenge.
- Partner up with some of my favorite brands & companies in a way which benefits us both. With these new products & new ideas that I will launch in 2018, I’m going to add a LOT of value to the brands I partner up with.