Let It Be

I have a yearly motto.

Well, I do now.

It started unofficially last year. I wrote a question on my quote board so I could see it and ask myself throughout the year: “What would someone who loved herself do?” And this became my sort-of-motto for the year. The idea was to ask myself this question in certain situations as a way to break me of constantly shoving myself down on my own priority list. It allowed me to be selfish in a healthy way.

This year I intentionally set a motto: Let It Be.

Yes, I know it’s also a Beatles song/album.

The point of this year’s motto is for me to learn not to obsess over and try to control things that don’t need to be obsessed over/controlled.

I have a tendency to fixate on the speed of things. I need everything to happen sooner than it does. And I obsess over the fact that things aren’t progressing at the speed that I wish them to progress. And I try to control that speed.

What I have discovered in doing this repeatedly over the years (because you know I do everything the hard way) is that it only succeeds in driving me crazy and sometimes forcing things to happen before they should happen, usually to unfortunate ends.

Because I am a hard-headed donkey of a person, it makes sense that I would come up with a motto for 2017 to remind me to…well…let it be.

Put in the work, put in the effort, do what needs to be done. Then let it be.

Let things happen when they’re supposed to happen.  Let it be.

If you have to force it (most of the time), then it’s not ready/time/whatever. Let. It. Be.

I am hoping that a year of this motto will drill it into my fool head that my time can be better spent doing something that’s actually productive rather than screwing myself into the ground trying to control something that’s not meant to be controlled. Maybe I might learn that it’s okay to not control everything. Maybe I might learn that it’s not really me giving up control, but in reality recognizing what I truly do control.

Not something exactly revolutionary to those not prone to being uptight (and man, can I be uptight about some things), but I think my blood pressure will thank me in the end.

Yeah, man. Let it be.

Board Quotes

quotesI have two small white boards hanging on my closet door. One of them has my two week schedule, bill due dates, and my shopping list. The other used to have a writing To Do list, but I moved all of that business to Evernote. Afterwards, I wondered what to do with it now that it was all empty. I like my things to be useful.

I ended up turning it into a quote board. It all started quite innocently. I wrote my mantra “Let’s Be Brave” on the bottom of it. (For the “Let’s Be Brave” story, click here.) It’s a visual reminder of how I’m supposed to be running my railroad.

The second quote that went up came across my Twitter feed and was attributed to Guillermo del Toro (I’m not sure if he actually said it, I can only relay the circumstances in which I found it; I hope he did, though).

“Success is fucking up on your own terms.”

I love this. I love this so much. It serves as a constant reminder that if I’m going to do this thing called life, the only way I’ll ever be able to call myself a success is if I’m doing what I want to do. Even if I fail at it, it’s still a success because it’s the path I wanted to walk.

Then I added two quotes that I’ve been carrying with me in some fashion since I was about 17. They’re pinned to the cork board over the computer desk in the kitchen and I realized that I needed to bring them into my bedroom work space as well, especially since I don’t work in the kitchen work space all that often anymore.

“The power is inside you. Nobody can give it to you. Nobody can take it away. Now go play the harp.” Michael Nesmith said this on an episode of The Monkees (I’ve talked about it before) and even though it might have been scripted, I like to think that he put a  little something into it. A reminder that I am the master of my command here on the big Earth ship.

And from his fellow Monkee, Peter Tork: “Scary to cope, to have to deal, but sometimes it works out, gets real. Don’t quit just before the miracle.” Life is rough, kids, but you have to keep going. There’s always something just waiting to be great.

Finally, the last quote I added to the board came from Maya Angelou. It was added shortly after she passed away. The woman was so gifted with words and feelings that it’s a shame that I didn’t have this up on my board eons ago.

“You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody.”

Something I need to be reminded of daily, particularly when I’m being questioned about the not-so-conventional life I’ve decided to lead. I don’t have to prove my worth to anyone. I have every right to exist as I am, doing what I’m doing right now.

I look at the board every day, to be inspired and to be reminded.

I think it’s the best use that white board could have had.


Edit: After this post was initially written, but before it was posted for the world to read, I added another quote to my board, once again because of a death, this one untimely as all hell. Another quote to remind me that I’m doing things right.

“You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.” ~Robin Williams

What Bill Watterson Said

Railroad Tracks

The wonderful thing about Twitter is that it exposes me to things that I might not normally make contact with. Sometimes that can be  a curse, but much of the time it’s a blessing.

Someone linked to a Slate article about this blog, particularly the Bill Watterson entry. Gavin Aung Than is a freelance cartoonist and for this blog, he takes inspirational quotes and turns them into cartoons. For the Bill Watterson quote, which was taken from a speech he did at Kenyon College in 1990, Mr. Than drew the cartoon in the style of Mr. Watterson (and did a pretty fabulous job, if you ask me, which no one did, but I’m saying it anyway).

Combining the essence of Calvin and Hobbes with a solid, meaningful quote is a great way to speak to me and this little bit did. It’s basically saying what I’ve been struggling with for the past six years in pursuing my life as a writer. I’m viewed as a failure because I’m not out to get that brass ring everyone’s heard tell about. I’m not doing it the way I’m supposed to.

I use my living situation, which most would cite as an example of failure, to my advantage so I can work my “not real” jobs to pay my bills while affording me the time I want to write. I did the same thing when I had a “real job” at Wal-Mart, only working part-time, refusing promotions and such so I could keep my writing time. When I took my last “real job”, the full-time deal in a cube, I really wasn’t feeling it, partially because my writing time was significantly cut down.

People thought I was terrible for quitting that last job. It was a “good” job. And it was a good job. But it wasn’t MY good job.

It’s my life and I want to do it my way and unfortunately, my way isn’t THE way, and I’d like people living THE way not to freak out about it so much. We all gotta run our own railroads.

Just like the comic. He quit the job that wasn’t fulfilling him to make model T-Rex’s and be a stay-at-home dad. That’s not MY life. Painting models and raising kids isn’t the train track I wanna be running on, but I totally get that sentiment.

And please, don’t bring up the whole “paying the bills” end of this scenario. “Not everyone can quick their jobs and ART!” (Seriously, every third comment on the Slate article I didn’t link to for just that reason was like this. Every second comment was bitching about how it was an insult to people who ARE ambitious and WANT that kind of life and, oh for fuck’s sake, go sit down somewhere because you’re insistence on missing the point is irritating). First of all, I PAY my bills and I’ve paid them since I was fifteen. And no matter what situation I’m in, bills getting paid comes first. Bills getting paid coming first is the important part of this scenario.

But I try to do it in such a way that was more fulfilling to me.

Kinda like I’m doing right now.

Words to Live By

Quotation marks

I like quotes. Real people, fictional people, doesn’t matter. I like a good, strong quote. I like a quote you can apply to your life. I’ve got my share of those. Here are a few of my favorite ones.

“Simple respect. I expect nothing more and I’ll accept nothing less.” -Margaret Houlihan, M*A*S*H

It’s the baseline for my life. I’m big on respect. I give basic level respect and I expect to get at least that in return. As I get to know you, the respect increases, but sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes I keep in on that basic “You and I are both humans and I was raised with manners” level. And sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I decide you don’t deserve my respect, and I’m not going to give it to you. Period. End of story. I won’t treat you badly or disrespect you (unless I’m forced into that position); I just won’t deal with you at all. If you’re not worth my respect, then you’re not worth my time.

Likewise, I expect basic respect and I won’t take anything less. I won’t let you disrespect me. I won’t settle for it. I won’t stand for it. I got that sort of treatment more often than I should have when I worked in retail and I tell you what, I didn’t get paid enough to pretend it wasn’t a big deal. Customers were corrected, as nicely as possible at first, of course. Because I’m working a job that YOU think is lowly doesn’t mean you get to treat me that way. You will treat me with common courtesy and basic respect. Period. It’s up to me to earn anything more.

“My guts are not here for you to love.” -Margaret Houlihan, M*A*S*H

Another line that I apply to my general existence. You don’t have to like me. I wasn’t born for you to like me. I’m here for my own purpose and I act on my own reasons and I make my own decisions and you don’t have to like any of that. I’m not here to make you happy. I’m here to live my life and do my time and make the most out of what I’ve got and do it in my own way and if that doesn’t satisfy you, Scooter, then I don’t know what to tell you. Get used to disappointment, I suppose.

“I cannot sit here waiting for you to have an epiphany. I am losing the will to live.”Radek Zelenka, Stargate: Atlantis

I use this as a reminder because I have a tendency to do a lot of sitting and thinking and don’t always follow through on the action part. Problems are typically solved through action and granted, it’s good to attempt a solution after thinking one up, but there comes a point when you can only do so much thinking and then the doing has to start. I can’t sit around and wait for a better idea or a better option. I’ve got to run with what I’ve got and risk failure.

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” -Samuel Beckett

If there was every a quote for writing, this is it. If there was ever a quote for LIFE, this is it. It does me no good to go through life afraid of failing and as a perfectionist, that’s sometimes difficult for me to grasp. This quote reminds me that failure is part of life and can be the best teacher.

“The power is inside you. Nobody can give it to you. Nobody can take it away. Now go play the harp.” Michael Nesmith, The Monkees

The ultimate self-esteem boost. I don’t need anyone’s permission to be great. I don’t need anyone’s approval to be great. I can be great if I want to be and no one can stop me. In the end, I’m the only one that rules over myself. No one else.

“They can’t yank a novelist like they can a pitcher. A novelist has to go the full nine even if it kills him.” -Ernest Hemingway

A writing reminder that can also be applied to life with a little revision. I’m in it to win it, baby. I’ve to be ready to throw a complete game every time I step on the mound. (And sometimes after a particularly rough writing jag, I feel like I just threw nine innings, too.)

“Hope for the best. Expect the worst. Life’s a play. We’re all unrehearsed.” -Mel Brooks

In the end, we’re all just muddling through the best we can. Might as well make the best of it.