If I asked you to name one thing you’ve done this fall to improve your life, what might you say? No pressure. It’s just a conversation that interests me. Is there something you did, between today and September, that made things better for you or your world?
As you may already know about me, I started this blog to explore taking tired things and making them better. I’m well versed on the topic of feeling burned out. I’d be the last to judge if you happened to feel lost or anxious or just plain tired. And I’d be first in line to cheer you on as you reclaim the sanity you may be seeking.
This fall, one of my best life hacks came in the form of changing my perspective. This may sound simple, but for for a fixer like me, stress tends to kick me into auto mode. Once I enter this state, I jump from one problem to the next, solving and solving and solving some more. Left unchecked for too long, this relentess fixing turns to numbness.
Over the past few years, I’ve learned to adopt new practices that kick me out of autopilot and shake things up. Sure, I’d heard these things before, but developing them into habits is what’s made the difference. When I actually slow down enough to follow them, as I have this fall, I sleep better, feel better, and am all around better to hang out with.
PRACTICE #1: STOP AND LOOK AROUND
For me, the key here is stop. See the tree below? It’s one of my favorites from this season. But I nearly missed the chance to capture it, much less notice it at all. I saw it out of the corner of my eye one morning as I drove to an appointment. As usual, I was in a rush. Punctuality isn’t exactly my strongest suit, and I routinely end up in a mild panic as I attempt to arrive somewhere on time. In this case, though, I had a few minutes to spare.
I glimpsed the tree and badly wanted to stop and take a shot of it. Torn between my artistic voice and the clock, I drove all the way down the block before deciding to go for it. I turned around, parked (safely) along the road, scampered across the street, and snapped a few shots. When I made my destination on time, I was doubly appreciative I hadn’t missed out on fall’s fleeting beauty.
PRACTICE #2: RIFF OFF SOMEBODY’S WORK
Unlike ripping off sombody’s work, riffing involves loving it, then creating your own distinct variation. In my case Instagram serves as a wonderland of inspiration. My account exists so I can surround myself with makers, dreamers, and entrepreneurs. No matter what I’m doing, I can always take a break and feel comforted by a running stream of color and possibility, in the form of other people’s photos.
One that caught my eye was Scrapping Jackie’s selfie in green, which features a patch of grass surrounded by her shadow. Her caption made me chuckle, but something about the simple power of the image kept it lingering in my mind.
Six weeks later, on a particularly sunny day, I saw the chance to take my own shadow selfie. Who’s to say for sure whether I’d have noticed this scene without having been inspired by Jackie’s? What I do know is that I thought of her photo as I stood and captured my own. For considerable insight on stealing like an artist, check out the work of Austin Kleon, who’s made a career of motivating people through this topic.
PRACTICE #3: TAKE A RISK AND MEET SOMEBODY NEW
This next shot captures a gang of ladies having enjoying brunch at a Brooklyn cafe. You might think we were a group of old friends, but in fact we’d met the evening before. Destined for sewing camp–yes, sewing camp–we flew cross country and opened ourselves up for adventure. Unable to find a flight that would allow me to catch the morning shuttle to camp on time, I reached out to Jennifer, whose name appeared on emails leading up to the event.
Jennifer turned out to be the ah-mazing Jennifer Wiesen of Workroom Social, the camp organizer herself. I later discovered her boundless energy and commitment to making each and every one of us feel welcome. But at this stage all I knew was that she’d connected me with a group of other campers who were arriving the night before and had found a place to stay. Thankfully Marrie, Rebecca, Cheryl, and Lilly welcomed me into their 800-square foot Airbnb, where we ended up bonding fast.
Over the course of the long weekend that followed, we took sewing intensives, crashed in bunks, hit the dining hall, and did camp activities like hikes in the gorgeous, fall-studded woods. Thirteen of us who’d selected the jean-making class got to learn from pattern designer Heather Lou herself. Lucky for me, Lilly was in this class, too. Check out her camp experience and see the jeans she made.
Not every season of life has allowed me the time or money to attend such an experience, so I’m glad there are ways to take advantage of this practice without getting on a plane.
So now I ask you: Do you have any practices that keep you in the habit of seeing a new perspective? I’d love to hear about it.