On Falling Behind

Sometimes, the burden of life gets a little heavier than normal.

Certain things you’d like to get done fall by the wayside, in favor of more pressing issues.

And that’s okay.

Sometimes, you just need to take care of yourself.

Take breaks.

As long as those breaks don’t become the new normal, then spending some time in self-care is good.

Don’t beat yourself up if you fall behind.

Because, after all, life’s not a race.

In your process of rejuvenation and self-care try to do things that will build you up, rather than bring you down.

Respond to negative thoughts with positive actions.

Stay well.

The Rhythm of Life

The sun rises.

The sun sets.

The world turns.

The clock ticks.

Life operates outside us; indifferent, consistent, moving to an objective rhythm out of our control.

When we say life is chaotic, it’s because we have misunderstood it.

It’s not that life is chaotic, it’s that we’ve fallen out of sync.

When we’re not paying attention, it becomes easy to lose the rhythm. 

That’s because we often have our own ideas about how life should be.

And we’re usually wrong.

If we fight it, we may find ourselves hitting the wrong notes and messing up the performances of those around us.

Understanding how to move with the rhythm of life is important if you wish to put on a good performance.

Because, like all pieces of music, life has a finale.

And, then it’s over.

How often are you happy? How often are you sad?

How often do you feel energized? How often do you feel de-energized?

How much of what you feel is based on things you can’t control?

How much of what you feel is based on what you can?

Pillars and Foundations

Living my life with intention has allowed the things I want to do and the things I should do to better align.

My days are filled with the kind of purpose that a day job never gave me.

The things I do each day don’t come with a paycheck, but they do come with a sense of purpose.

So, what I want and what I need fall into better alignment.

I am setting a foundation for the rest of my life. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future, but whenever it does happen, I want to feel like a solid human being.

So, I’m laying into what’s important.

Now, I actually want to exercise. I want to spend time in nature. I want to read.

I have to keep an eye on my three pillars: sleep, healthy eating, and exercise.

If those things fall apart, then everything falls apart.

When the three pillars are maintained, I can put forth better effort into what’s important with greater concentration and consistency.

What’s On Your Stand?

It used to be more common for vendors to set up stands with food, clothes, jewelry, or whatever strange oddities they created.

Now, we mostly do that on the internet.

Sometimes, I feel like my stand has nothing on it; that I’m just kind of hanging around, watching all the people walk by.

I see the other vendors around me shouting at passersby, telling them to “buy, buy, buy!”

I look down at my stand and don’t see much more than the wood it’s made from.

Just words. Air. My thoughts.

But, that’s only sometimes.

I have a little workshop, behind the stand, and this is where I spend much of my time.

Because, like many others, I’m a craftsman.

Inside the workshop, I hone my craft, creating pieces here and there.

Re-sculpting, re-framing, re-working…just crafting.

Once in a while, I will show my work to someone whose judgement I trust. This is because I want to get better, not because I want validation.

At least, that’s what I regularly tell myself.

The truth is, receiving validation for your work is really nice. That’s why so many in the creative field strive to be movie stars, rock stars, shooting stars.

And a reason why so many fail.

When the validation becomes the key motivator, it has a profound impact on the work.

Even those who reach “the top” are liable to suffer the hardest falls if they put out a bad piece.

Because, here’s another truth:

Validation is fleeting.

Doing something good that the public sees sets expectations.

And meeting (or exceeding) expectations leads to rewards of further validation.

If one person or a million said “Good job,” it would feel good for a time, but eventually, we’d return to that same place of wanting validation.

We get a little bit.

Then, we want more.

But it always leads back to that desire, which will consume us if we let it.

Those who truly succeed in their respective creative fields are those who are in it for the long haul, primarily because they enjoy making their things. They do it whether or not they receive validation.

This is how I’m trying to view my own creative work.

While I have little to offer at this point aside from my “experiences in crafting”, I will continue to try, at least. Try to maintain, improve and offer encouragement to those who are doing the same.

Eventually, I’ll have something on my stand that I can really be proud of.

Where is your little stand and what’s on it?

The Best-Laid Plans

Sometimes you lay out a detailed plan for your whole afternoon.

Sometimes you set out to write your weekly post about the value of planning.

Sometimes your dog breaks into the hen house, kills three of your chickens, and throws off your entire afternoon.

It happens.


“The best-laid plans…” as they say. Actually, I don’t know what the complete saying is. I always just hear people say “The best-laid plans…” and then you’re supposed to finish the rest, I guess.

The best-laid plans don’t account for bloodthirsty dogs. There.

What I can say about planning is that sometimes, it has no value, whatsoever.

Planning can’t really prepare for the unexpected. 

That’s why it’s unexpected.

Maybe there’s a theme in here about death somewhere, too. 

I’m sure the chickens didn’t wake up this morning thinking it was their last.

I guess none of us really know.

That’s why I quit my job. That’s why I spend my time doing what I love with the people I love.

I know it can’t be the same for everyone. I know the system pushes a lot of people down.

We are always connected these days, though.

And with connection comes opportunity.

Pockets of opportunity exist everywhere, albeit to varying degrees of visibility.

But they are always there.

That’s why it’s important to pay attention.

That’s why it’s important to minimize distraction.

Making the most of life means paying attention, but you have to decide what that means for you.

If this sounds like general advice, it is.

If you need a little more, here’s some:

Gravitate toward the creative things you love. 

Avoid the things that keep you from doing those creative things on a consistent basis.

For me, this means:

  • staying off social media.
  • avoiding binge watching.
  • reading books.
  • going on nature walks.
  • regular exercise.
  • writing daily.
  • spending time with my child.
  • spending time in the sun.
  • regulating the media I consume (no more than an hour a day of video games, for instance).

Anything less will bring me down. Maybe not all the way, but in fragments.

But those fragments add up.

Maybe it’s the same for you, or vastly different.

I hope you don’t spend most of your time doing things you hate and the rest of it distracting yourself from that fact.

And, I sincerely hope the bloodthirsty animal jaws of death remain far, far away from your hen house for a long time.

Be well, John Spartan.

The Search for Clarity

I’m not the best at speaking out loud. It takes me time to form my thoughts into words sometimes, and I often stumble over myself when I try to explain a concept to others.

That’s because I still have much to learn.

So, I’m spending this time trying to uncover knowledge, and the unwritten words buried deep within my mind.

For many of us, buried somewhere beneath the mounds of anxiety spread throughout the world, clarity is still waiting to be unearthed.

And clarity can be achieved through solitude, not through the constant barrage of information thrown at us every minute of the day.

Checking our phones constantly doesn’t really help us or anyone else.

Here are some practical suggestions for bringing back a little clarity into your life:

  • Go on a walk (if you can find a place far from others)
  • Color (seriously, it’s relaxing)
  • Read a good book
  • Write, especially about how you’re feeling
  • Exercise
  • Garden
  • Meditate

The important things involve moving your body, feeding your brain with good stories (preferably from physical books), and creating things.

Each of us has an unknown amount of time left on this earth. No matter what we do, we can’t control it.

I don’t know when my last day will be.

But I do know that I want to spend whatever time I have left putting good things into my mind and body, and contributing positive things into the world.

What will you do to get back your clarity?

Solitude vs. Social Media

Solitude = alone with your thoughts.

Social media = alone with everyone else’s thoughts.

In the former, you arrive at conclusions based on what you are thinking.

In the latter, you arrive at conclusions based on what everyone else is thinking.

Solitude shapes your opinion by forcing you to spend quality time inside your own head.

Social media shapes your opinion by baking it inside an echo chamber created by algorithms.

That’s not to say there isn’t value in what other people say.

Quite the opposite. Challenging your own perspective is important for the global discussion.

But, what value is there in being reactive?

An approach like this doesn’t take all perspectives into account, nor does it take the time to get to the heart of the issue.

And is it worth spending so much time analyzing what someone else says, anyway?

Maybe. If what they say affects your life.

But, most things people say don’t.

So, why do you listen to them?

Or me?