So, I think we can all agree that 2020 should go. Like, it’s done. We get it. It’s struggling, it’s not up for the job. It’s like a hungry, thirsty, and lactose intolerant toddler that had a bottle of milk, went through five diapers, one of which leaked – and it’s just DONE. I think it needs some water and a nap. And we need year not-2020.
So my not-2020 is going to start July 2, when – after an introvert version of Canada Day celebration, which I assume in my family’s case will mean a scooter + 2 bikes ride, a gluten-free pizza (still working on developing that one family cauliflower crust recipe, at the moment it’s a bit meh), and maybe a LotR or The Hobbit marathon – I’m going back to work. Which means, among other things… ROUTINE.
I love routine. Routine and me are pals. I’m going to make a YouTube video on my lifestyle/routine. It’s not much of a ‘style’ to be honest, I’m no guru or influencer or whatnot, but I thought I’d share. (I was watching a Mel Robbins video – I’ll deliberate below on why I was watching it in a second – and she said, ‘There’s someone in the world who NEEDS to hear what you have to say.’ So I thought I’d tell you about my morning pages practice and my love for ACV. You can always ignore it, right?)
You’d think there would’ve been tons of routine during the quarantine – but in honesty, it felt like being on a motor boat on a rapid river in windy weather. And so you know, I start ‘feeding the fish’ on any floating vehicle before they start the engine or pick up a paddle. It was a blur of going for three hour walks to distract an anxious child from the panic ringing in his teacher’s voice, baking three trays of cookies in a day, sublimating the rage and the fear by weeding the yard (poor, poor thistles), and all sorts of funny behaviours, which I (and my son) will later address in therapy.
And then it all suddenly settled in my mind, about two weeks ago, on a sunny afternoon, nothing special about it. Like that glitter that you can see in a snow globe that goes down and suddenly it’s… calm. That’s how it felt in my mind: silent, but not empty, and sparkly, and festive. Was that acceptance? I don’t know. Hopefully. Maybe the Yale course on well-being I took for free on Coursera kicked in; maybe it’s yoga; but she surely ain’t born with it, I can tell you that.
Some time ago a friend of mine started on her own decluttering journey. Mine started March 2019. She messaged me and asked what’s going to happen next, now that she’d deleted almost all of her pages and was ‘attacking’ her wardrobe or a book shelf or something. And I told her that soon she’d experience… The Void. I’ve been there. The (creative or otherwise) Void when you don’t know what you want to do, where to go, and whether there’s even a point. I told her all you can do is sit in The Void – and LISTEN. And you’ll feel restless, and you’ll try to force yourself and The Void to give you some answers, and you’ll try to fall back onto the old patterns of creativity (and life in general.) It’s like after you Marie Kondo your house, and create this minimalist + a tad of hygge + mindful decor, one day you pass through a shop and for no reason pick up a candle. And then you come home and stare at it in your bag and realise that was the Katya from before March 2019 who bought that candle. Because Katya of (not)2020 doesn’t need it. She doesn’t even want it. It’s orange! I have nothing orange in the house. Everything is navy blue, and pink; and my clothes are, plus a bit of olive grey. And then I thought that I could possibly fit the orange candle in my teal dining room, near the orange portrait of my cat that I painted… but why would I? And then I went back and returned it, and had to go through the annoying process of ‘filing the refund’ into my budget app on my phone (highly recommend the Spendee one, in my experience it’s the best in preventing disagreements with a spouse… in my experience.)
And that story I tried to force myself to write in the middle of Winter – just to FEEL something, just to reassure myself I’m creative, and trying to artificially create that buzz that runs my veins when I write – that story is basically an orange candle. If you’re anything like me, and not necessarily in terms of writing, you admit your fault, and you understand you ‘spoke too soon,’ and The Void wasn’t done – and you sit back and continue listening, while still decluttering here and there, because it’s a practice, not a project.
And then The Void whispers. Maybe it just reminds you of that one thing you’re good at. Or maybe it tells you a story, if you listen attentively. And then, if you accept the Unknown and go with it and breathe through it – and with it – something takes shape.
And that’s when you start setting goals. But they have to be SMART goals (and it’s an abbreviation, not an emphasis I go for, here.) Specific. Measurable. Attainable. Relevant. Time Bound. Here, you start reading self-help books again, but this time you do it mindfully because you’ve decluttered your mind, why would you put unnecessary info in it?
And then you start looking around, and organising your life – and if you’re Katya Kolmakov, you understand that what you do best is writing light, happy webserials for Wattpad. And that’s what that someone in the world who needed to hear what you have to say is here to read and hopefully enjoy and maybe crack a smile. And that you’re ready to set those 3 month goals Brian P. Moran speaks about (another of self-help gurus, whose book you can read if it’s something relevant to what you’re working on right now – but only if you ARE working on something like that. Or not. You can read whatever you want.) And in my case, those goals are:
~ Update. Update regularly. Write and/or edit every day. Find an hour for it in your day. (Or 30 min.) Let your kid play PvZ and go check that chapter for spelling mistakes.
~ Work towards hopefully turning one of those stories on Wattpad into a paid one. They’re popular. Wattpad can pick it up, promote it, and you get that CAD 2K a month you’re visualizing every morning. Does visualization work? Hell if I know. Does it feel good visualizing a juicy 2K in my bank account sitting on top of my measly salary? Sometimes. Sometimes it’s bitter sweet, but I’ll give it a go.
~ Publish the next Kindle book. This one will be fun. I decided I’ll let my readers decide what it’s going to be. I think I’ll make a poll on my Author Facebook page. I want to see how much activity it’ll generate. If there’s no one there besides the five people left from the good old fanfiction times, I’ll adjust and find a new channel. I’m flexible. I have the head room, as David Allen puts it.
Actually, does visualisation work? Does a ‘weekly reset?’ How about ‘implementation intention?’ ‘5 Second Rule?’ 80/20 rule? I don’t know. But I’ll give them a go. It’s a new year, new me after all. Cue the pretty pink graphic I created.
One of the personal development gurus suggested creating an inspiration board (you can see mine on my Instagram) and also making a bespoke desktop image for your computer to inspire you every time you turn your laptop on. I used the images from my desktop in this image: it’s all about writing, and selling one’s books, and hygge, and the lack of anxiety, and BALANCE. Let’s see how this goes. Let’s see if I’ll manage to go back to my 5 a.m. morning routine (I used to be able to do it before the pandemic, but it wasn’t ‘the new me’ then and I wasn’t productive. I mostly scrolled through social media, but I’ve reduced it to 2 rounds of allocated social media times a day now, so maybe I’ll manage to squeeze something better in my time between a shower and a cup of joe.) I’ve been spoilt rotten and sleeping till 8 in the last 9 weeks. Even my cats have switched to a late rise. So, I wouldn’t hope for too much. But I’ll try.
I think, I’m out of The Void (don’t know if it’s related to Stage 3 of re-opening after the pandemic, but if it’s not, it’s a heck of a coincidence) – and I’m starting to want things. Not tangible things, because I haven’t gotten off my high horse of the Kondo philosophy and mindfulness and (sadly necessarily) tight budgeting. I want readers. I want a readership. I want to be paid a bit for my writing, but I’m going to be healthy about it. I’ll set goals, and work towards them, and I’ll learnt on my failures. I didn’t say it right. I don’t want things. I want EXPERIENCES. I want to see people comment, and laugh at my stories, and worry for the protagonists, and feel relieved when it’s finally their HEA time. And I want to enjoy the time I spend on my computer, with my pink desktop background, in my pink shirt (it’s almost always pink. It’s pink right now.) I want to record YouTube videos and not say anything too important in them. I want to connect.
Hope you do too, because there will be videos and polls. And new stories. Nothing heavy, just something… pink. Hope you stick around! If it’s your cup of Earl grey, of course.
Love you all. I truly do.