It’s the last day of 2014, and a funny thing happened while walking in my neighborhood this morning.
I passed a house with a “LifeStyler by HealthRider” out front, left for the lucky at-home-cyclist-wannabe who finds it first.
It wasn’t this alone that struck me as funny though; it was the fact I’d experienced this exact thing on the last day of 2009, while walking through the Mexican city of Puebla.
Uncanny? No way.
With the dawn of a new year just a handful of hours away, many of us seize the opportunity to purge the old in preparation for the new.
Two people, thousands of miles away, experienced a similar thought: “Hey, I’ve had this clunky piece of equipment taking up space in my home for too long. I don’t use it, but I bet someone else out there would appreciate it more than I do. Someone with the new year’s resolution to exercise more at home.”
Or something to that effect.
So both of these individuals gave their exercise bikes away – with the hope of their junk being someone else’s goldmine. Different countries, customs, habits, personalities, with the same win-win instinct. (One releases, another gains.)
Seeing these instances, years apart, allowed me to experience the connection we share as humans on this planet. Yes, a tiny, fleeting instance of interconnectivity, but it felt powerful nonetheless.
It’s little reminders like this that motivate me to think anew, create anew, and write/speak/teach about behavior patterns that inspire design; about human quirks and stories; about our potential to be generous and serve those in need, as well as delight those we serve.
I felt like shit, but it was time for MARKD*, and I wanted to call in to catch the last 20 minutes.
And even though my frickin’ neighbors were doing some construction and hammering, like, right on my head at this very moment in time, the poignant words of Erika Lyremark laser-beamed to the core of my being.
(I adore Erika. She’s a business coach extraordinaire, author of Think Like A Stripper, and creator of numerous coaching programs, including *MARKD, a cool but short-lived weekly call-in experiment, which Erika very swiftly shape-shifted into something else shiny and new.)
This was the fourth episode and the question put forth was “Where are you stuck?”
All of its goodness was swirling around with (my headache and) everything else I was still processing from episodes 1, 2 and 3, which I binge-listened to the day before — the first one, in particular, which was built around the notion of “scary simple.”
We were to ask ourselves, “What can you do that’s so simple it’s scary?” Something that you haven’t gotten around to doing despite the fact it’s actually super easy to do? (And why are you making it so hard?)
I couldn’t shake it. I kept thinking about feeling stuck and “scary simple,” and then I distracted myself with non-scary simple chores: I jumped in the shower, put in the laundry and emptied the dishwasher. I organized my drawers, pitched what I no longer love, cleaned out my closet and scrubbed the toilets. I prepped for my father-in-law’s (then) imminent visit, made up the guest bed, swept the front steps… and in the process of me doing all this, especially the cleaning out the closet part, I got reacquainted with an absurdly over-the-top, ostentatious yet beloved Versace-like silk top I own, with lions and tigers and circus performers, oh my!
Since I was in such a funk – and fashion always gets me out of a funk – I put it on while cleaning. I was a silky, purplish, stylish blur in a frenzy of activity, and I knew I had to write about it.
So I did, and the whole process cracked me open. I remembered a time in my past when someone else asked me to do something “scary simple.”
Here’s (a quickie version of) that story: as an early twenty-something, in the thick of my bulimia, I saw a therapist one time who suggested I “just try to eat a single cookie.” Which of course made me furious because even the idea of that simple, scary action made me think, “No way, I can do better than that; I can do more than that. One simple cookie: what the fuck? What’s the point? Why even do it? It’s a stupid cookie! Who cares? I’d rather have no cookie, or go crazy and have ’em all.”
(Yes, I realize this may sound crazy for anyone who’s calibrated for moderation, but for someone who’s always found refuge in the extremes, it’s pretty standard stuff.)
The cookie memory is a big deal for me. It helped me connect past with present and see that doing something simple – a small action – because I never felt good enough – was never enough on its own. Simple felt scary.
Instead of simple, I went over-the-top. I felt like I needed to give more do more be more. Achieve more. Learn more study more know more. Always more more more more more.
I guess simple on its own left me bare, and SEEN as simply… me.
This is all a raw and roundabout way of saying, “Thank you, Erika, for asking the question, ‘What can you do that is scary simple?’”
Simple has felt scary for a long time, but I am starting to get that it doesn’t have to be all at once, over-the-top, out of the ballpark, all the time. Sometimes simple can be just right and exactly enough.
Maybe by taking action, one “scary simple” step at a time, the scary in simple… gets washed away?
What do you think? Can you relate?
PS: Truth be told, the rebel in me has forever regarded simple as boring, stubbornly resisting the whole “one cookie” approach to life. (Shifty rebel.) I’ve wanted to do things in a stand-out way, or not at all. So there’s that going on too ;)
My step-daughter is hip to all the latest digital trends and has had me hooked more times than I care to mention on games, shows, you name it.
It always starts with a subtle “You should try it.” A sideways glance. The hint of a smile.
** College flashback. **
Too curious for my own good, I jump in and I give it a whirl. An hour easily passes by before I realize I haven’t showered, eaten breakfast or peeled my eyes up from beneath my MacBook Air. And, yeah, I’m late for work.
This morning it was Polyvore. I’ve known about it for ages, but its siren call hadn’t grabbed me ’til now.
Maybe it was the rainy morning and the lure of a Thanksgiving contest… plus the fact they make it so damn easy to drag-and-drop pretty pictures – lusty fashion items, overpriced tchotchkes for the seasonally-scented home, make-up, pattern overlays, typography, etc.
Like Canva, Picmonkey, and all the other up-and-coming picture-driven platforms, Polyvore takes the angst out of collage-making and boosts your ego a bit (especially if Illustrator, InDesign or Photoshop have made you wild-eyed, and grey-haired way too soon).
And no one celebrates the chaos of it all with more exuberance and joy than Mayi Carles, “a tiny Panamanian artist with a T-Rex heart.”
Her line of “Life Is Messy” digital products is growing like gangbusters – from downloadable whimsical day planners and an app-in-the-making to a wildly successful virtual boot camp designed to whip disorganized entrepreneurs into world-class form.
The latest addition is an illustrated cookbook, stuffed with cheeky illustrations, lush photography, mouth-watering recipes, and tutorials galore – soaking, blending, meal planning and more!
Mayi has poured every ounce of her monumental heart and soul into this mostly plant-based, gluten-free cookbook. Anything but dull, it drips with decadent creativity – kinda like her “Chocolate Caramel Sauce” (page 109) or “Clean Nutella,” found on page 99, made from real hazelnuts, maple syrup, almond milk and cacao powder.
Somehow, some way – pixie dust, magic wand, superhuman awesome sauce? – Mayi has found a way to make dense nutrition a total freakin’ blast. Tonight, I tried my luck, and ended up laughing my way to licking my plate, with the “Zucchini Fettucine” (page 193) and “Avo-Pesto” (page 195) because it was a wet and dreary San Francisco day. (And nothing says comfort like creamy vegan pasta.)
You’ll also find recipes inside for green “Hulk Waffles” (with sneaky spinach), flatbread with figs and “raw-cotta” cheese, cauliflower buffalo wings with cashew blue cheese dipping sauce, oven-top granola, energy bars, and gorgeous layered salads, crafted with mason jars in mind – ideal for lunches on the run.
It’s a treasure trove of goodness and I can hardly wait to make more of a mess, eating my way from cover to cover!