Tag Archive: thoughts

On mental clutter

I recently finished reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo after it was highly recommended by my lovely friend and CP. The wildly popular book operates on the principle that we should only keep things that spark joy, and discard the rest, which is simple in theory but extremely difficult in practice. As I read, I became uneasy thinking about the amount of things I own that spark zero joy. In fact, since I have so much stuff and not enough storage, a lot of things end up sparking the antithesis of joy– anxiety. While I still haven’t gone on a full decluttering spree using the categories the book suggests, I started by going through my closets and found a surprising amount of clothes and shoes that I could easily part with. As soon as I filled up the garbage bags for donation, I felt lighter and less burdened.

Beautifully uncluttered.

That got me thinking about clutter. Not just physical clutter– the clothes jammed into my closet, sometimes sharing hangers, or the piles of paperwork building up on my desk– but all the mental junk building up in my brain, accumulated not through shopping sprees but time spent online, mindlessly reaching for my phone and scrolling through social media any time I’m sitting still. I suddenly realized I don’t really know how to be alone with my thoughts anymore, because any opportunity I have for boredom to set in– when I’m in line at the grocery store, waiting in my car to meet a friend, when a commercial comes on– I’m apt to whip out my phone and open Twitter or Instagram, or catch up on celebrity gossip. My brain doesn’t get a chance to rest because it gets busy again with what’s going on in other people’s lives. Sometimes I think my brain doesn’t even know how to rest anymore– my first instinct when I can’t sleep at four a.m. is to grab my phone and open an app.

There’s nothing wrong with pulling out your phone when you’re bored. If you look around, most people are doing the exact same thing. But what I want to be aware of is exactly how much those few minutes here and there add up to hours spent absorbing random and unnecessary information instead of creating something. I want to be okay with knowing what boredom feels like, because with boredom comes imagination. And while it seems natural to use the two minutes you’re waiting for your coffee order at Starbucks to click a bunch of hearts on Instagram, those two minutes snowball into the ten minutes on your break at work and the five minutes you spend waiting for a pot of water to boil while cooking dinner. It’s all time you don’t get back.

It’s not as straightforward to declutter your mind as it is to get rid of physical possessions by putting them in garbage bags and hauling them off to Goodwill. You can’t just dump the contents that aren’t serving you anymore. You can’t pick through your brain and pull out the useless information, separating it from the important content. But I’m going to start by just becoming more mindful about how I spend those minutes where I have “nothing” to do. I don’t want my imagination to be muffled under a blanket of news feeds and timelines. I want to learn how to be fully present, instead of constantly distracted with my attention pulled in several directions. I want to be okay with boredom again and work on sweeping out the details my brain doesn’t need, leaving room for new thoughts– and ideas– to take up the space they need to grow.

On being a girl’s mom

Baby’s first photo shoot! Photo credit to the talented Shirley Konu of SVH Designs!

Hi everyone! I’m taking a brief hiatus from my monthly update posts for a reason tiny in size but monumental in importance… the birth of my beautiful daughter, Astrid Doreen Lucille Flynn! She was born at 2:00 am on May 26, and the days since have been a total whirlwind. Everyone says time goes by crazy fast when you have a child, and I’m realizing that it’s not just a cliché… it’s very true. Astrid is almost four weeks old now and I have no idea how that happened already!

It’s not usually hard for me to write about anything (generally, it’s the opposite… I have too many words and too many ideas and not enough minutes in the day or space on a page to express them all)! But writing about Astrid and how she has already changed me is difficult to do. I had no idea it was possible to form such an instant, immediate, fierce love and devotion for another person. I had no idea that an adorably gummy little smile would bring tears to my eyes, or that I would wake up in the night just to stare at her and make sure she’s okay, or that rocking her to sleep would be such a feeling of comfort, or that changing a diaper and using less than ten wipes would be a big accomplishment. I had no idea I could function and be productive on so little sleep. (To think I used to need at least eight hours a night… ha!)

While I haven’t been writing much since Astrid arrived, I have been thinking about my writing, and how being the mom of a daughter will influence it. Shortly after Astrid was born and I was holding my baby girl, I realized how much I want to write stories for her, stories with strong female characters she can see herself in. Stories with girls who aren’t perfect, but who are real. Stories with girls who follow their hearts, who are fearless and unafraid of going after their dreams. I want to write stories that will inspire her (when she’s old enough to read them)! And I want to introduce her to books by so many of my talented author friends, who write some seriously authentic and memorable girls. I hope that books are a part of her life, the way they have been such a huge part of mine and helped me discover things about myself. I hope they make her realize there is no dream too big for her.

I’m an unapologetically girly girl. I have a closet devoted solely to dresses and skirts. I love purses and shoes and makeup and spa days, the color pink, girls’ nights spent drinking blush wine and watching Say Yes To The Dress. My lipstick collection is out of control. My Chihuahua owns several dresses that I make her wear. But I have another side. I’m also a daredevil. I also love hiking and being outside and if there’s a body of water to jump into, chances are I’ll be on the highest ledge, ready to dive in. If there’s a new trail to explore, I’m on it. I’ll try almost anything once. Girls don’t have to be one way or the other. Girls can do and be everything. I’m the mom of a girl who is now my everything. I want to show my everything that she can do and be anything. I can start by continuing to live my own dreams and set my own big goals, by not being afraid of that intimidating book idea or venturing outside of my comfort zone. I can live by example, as a strong woman who takes risks, so that she looks up to me.

And I can only hope that in the meantime, when she looks up at me, she keeps giving me those magnificent gummy smiles.

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