Messy By Tim Harford, Reminders to Distractions

I’m going to blame all the books I have on my list to read for being on hold at the library and then I started searching for something else because I really couldn’t go another month without reading a self-improvement book.  (This was also back in October 2018 when I initially read this book.  That was how I found this gem.)

It really is a gem. It’s a piece that tells you all the organizing books have it right, and wrong. It also showed me what my direction for the year 2019 was going to take.

Anyone who looks at my room will tell you at once that it is both highly organized and cluttered with this or that. I know where 89% of my stuff is and the 11% I don’t is in a new place within the last week. I haven’t adjusted to the new location yet. My walls have art and graphics and are nothing like a minimalist space. But I have nothing extra on the floor. I have decorative boxes holding mementos from places that I no longer live (This distraction will make more sense with next month’s book.)

That’s my need for clean.

Reading this book was a reminder that I’m not totally off track. Sure I delay things far longer than I should because of a deep fear of rejection. Blame it on high school and my childhood.

Because I like seeing where my projects take me. It’s amazing to see what I’ll make next, though the months of October to December do include a lot of Christmas present making going on. But what happens when I sit down and paint the chair I bought at a thrift store instead of writing an article?
Is that a bad thing?

Considering painting the chair had been on my task list for four months and the article two–not so much. But am I actually using the chair now?

Yes. You want to know something else cool? I have fewer things sitting on my to-do list so I’m sitting down and actually writing an article (or 6 posts) rather than beating myself up for not getting all my things done.

There’s a specific part in the book that caught my attention. He was discussing how team harmony isn’t’ worth the sale that people give it.  The true growth measure is goal harmony. It’s about being in the same direction, not always on the same path. How else are we supposed to problem solve?

Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives by Tim Harford is backed with science and riddled with historical examples of people getting into a mess and fixing the mess without cleaning it up first.

I don’t write these reviews to talk about the book too much. I write about what I got out of it. Because no one reads the exact same book. The words are the same but each of our experiences change each word to a different timbre and the way each word sounds in our heads while we read makes a concerto no one else will hear.

This book was a validation of sorts. It was a piece that told me that my aversion to minimalism wasn’t wrong. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t need things. I like experiences as much as the next person. But I am a kinesthetic learner. I touch and see and hear all the things in my life. I forget memories I’ve embedded into an object until I touch it. Sure, there are the pieces that I knew were there. But every once in a while I get something my brother did when we were younger, a face I haven’t thought of in years. I get an explanation for something I didn’t understand years ago. I have learned more from my distractions and my sidetracking than I have from the plans I made for myself.

When I was younger I loved doing word searches. I would get stuck on words as I went down the list of things to find. After a while I would move on, eventually, it became a set minute. And soon after I’d moved onto the next word on the list. You know what I would find? That word I couldn’t find before. Sometimes I’d have six of them and suddenly in 30 seconds, I would be further along because I’d decided not to waste a lot of time when I got stuck.

I wish I’d been doing this trick the last decade. Shit, it’s been a decade of being an adult. Of making decisions that would affect my life for several years if not the rest of it.

But the mess has been the best part of it.

If you like this review here’s how to get your copy.


Side Note: Ten years ago, I didn’t know any of my best friends. I also didn’t have a driver’s license either.




Peroxide and Stitches

Don’t tell me you can’t tell me
I spent 7 years, long fucking years
so far deep in lies for THEM
pretending everything was working,
everything was grand
Sure, my cover started to slip
three years before I finally broke,
the lies not worth keeping.

I wasn’t their nice little girl,
I learned the difference between
nice and kind, knowing that I
couldn’t be both, and chose kind.

the kind that rips off band-aids
the kind that speaks her mind
the kind that savors the goodness
the kind that protects them from themselves

But they wouldn’t see it.
wouldn’t accept that nice wasn’t possible
that Nice got me backstabbed
that Nice shoved me back from my dreams and desires
that Nice almost killed me.

Nice was just a band-aid on cuts
that required stitches immediately.
Kind is pouring the peroxide to prep.

You scream and cry now, but you won’t later
when the sutures are gone and healed
the scar reminding you of pain
you thought would never go

but suddenly, time passes and you don’t
look at the scar for months.
hell, you can barely see it now,
you only notice during the summer
when that skin won’t tan.
you don’t remember the pain anymore
you remember watching cartoons after 8 on a school night.


you don’t jump in the ocean in January
you see other people, but half of them
are just walking their dogs.

but you’re standing there collecting seashells
for every week  you’ve gone to visit
because you moved here for the saltwater
you moved here for that tinge in the air
that tells you, just how close to home
you really are.

you’re here because of a breakdown
you’re here because where else would you reset
you’re here because this, this makes sense.
Lonely has never looked good on me.
I lash out at people for having fun in groups
Because I want that,  for half a moment
And then I’m surrounded by madness
and chaos of coordinating too many people.

And I remember my happy maxes out at 6.
Crossing into overwhelm, going to deep
nearly drowning, dragging myself out of there
just to survive.

it’s the water logging that kills you.

Desperate Days

it’s everyone worrrying about bill pay
about making ends meet. And I’m only worse
because it’s all year round it comes
sticking out like a sore thumb, an ulcer
I should already have gotten long ago.

But things work out. little by little
sometimes I’ll wish I’d done something else
Only to look back far enough, mind,
to see there was no better way.

I wouldn’t be me, wouldn’t be this.
Ten years ago, I was taking SAT’s and ACT
waiting on the official acceptance letter
since grades and test scores guaranteed
me getting in–essays were for money.

God I wish I’d tried harder for
scholarships and other income
But I wouldn’t trade the friendships
from desperate jobs those days

Wrapping Paper

the holidays are over
I’ll stop making excuses why I won’t go back
because home never sounded right
hasn’t been that for a decade or more.

from the day I woke up
to the mess, I wasn’t making
but my trauma all the same
but that’s neither here nor there.

I stopped playing the blame game
a while ago, it’s dangerous.
Working on the whine-o-lot setting
but I’ve made progress.

But thankfully, this happy
family all the fucking time
is over for another eleven months.

All I want is half-off wrapping paper.
I’m out.

Own Your Mind

goosebumps. that shiver
down your back.
the moment
when you care again.

when the ceasefire
you’ve demanded
outside your body
in your mind.

when other words
pierce your armor;
the only thing
holding you up.

when you’d rather
scream and shriek
and cry, sobbing
like two years ago.

when everything
finally collapsed.

and you knew
just how deep
the hole
you’d gone and dug
really was.

and you woke up
to get to work
and get that shit

and you finally
used the tools
you’ve been
sitting on for years.

and you decided
that you
were in charge,
not the monsters.

Because you’re
the fucking general of
your own mind.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

There are books that walk into your life and just make magic. You think everything is just fine and dandy but you keep reading because there’s nothing else that makes enough sense in your life. So you plod on through because it’ s a pastime, it’s a solution, and it’s what you do.

This was recommended somewhere. I couldn’t tell you how it ended up on my list, but my tattoo on my arm is from Eat, Pray, Love. So yes, I like Gilbert’s not-novels-not-quite-biographies.

It’s also probably the reason I left Texas,
now that I think about it,
but more on that another day.

This is about Big Magic and how it resonated. There was nothing I didn’t know in the book, there’s was nothing that I shouldn’t have already been telling myself over and over, day in and day out. But I wasn’t. And that is the magic of reading what you know you should but you keep putting it off like any good procrastinator.

Because it told me that all I was going through was fear. FEAR of the future, the only bright spot in my life, because anything is possible. And I was afraid of that?

God, I’m sorry I was stupid. I’m sorry I’ve been doing whatever the hell I’ve been doing the last 27 years of my life that I forgot the hope that I should have always had.

But this year I’m going to learn. This year, I’m going to do something more than before. Previous readers know that I make mottos every year so that when my resolutions are not panning out like I planned, I have a redirection setting of what I wanted to accomplish. I started this in 2012 because at the time I refused to set resolutions because if I wanted to fix something I should start when I found it, not some arbitrary date that started a new year. It helped that I was firmly entrenched in the academic calendar and most of my stuff was organized August to August. The last few years I’ve started setting actual resolutions because at the time I discover them, it’s usually December and I need time to reorganize. And January 1 looks so nice on the calendar.

This book is mainly about unleashing the creativity process and being brave enough for what it calls you to. But there is one thing that resonated so much that it became my motto for this year, though I did start working on it back in August when I first read the book.

“My fear was boring.”

My entire life I have been afraid of stepping out of the boxes I made myself. I tell people that I would rather than on the box because if you only think inside or outside the box, your opportunities are limited to one or the other. But I’ve always played it safe when it came to money-related things. I didn’t want to risk it. Even if the pay off was going to totally be worth it in the long run.  Sure, there are things in my past that made me super risk adverse when it came to keeping a roof over my head.

But I’ve been feeling the yank of creativity, like that insistent friend who takes you out on the town on a night you’re not sure you feel it, but you have the time of your life while you’re out and the hangover the next day doesn’t really even register. And I know this pull is good for me, it’s the part of me that keeps breathing. Hell, I have “Create Write Love” inked on my arm so I never forget what keeps my soul alive. It isn’t for the readers, or the rest of the world, it’s for me. But because of someone else’s experience with suicidal thoughts and depression, I was able to see what was happening and get out of that spiral. Sure, I’ve gone down it a few times not realizing what my triggers were. But I’ve been better since 2015 when I started cutting things out of my life that were the root cause of what was yanking me down.

Hell, I’m writing this on Monday before I release this but yesterday (Sunday) was bad. It was a little thought about things I’d been raised to expect and what I didn’t have if I’d fucked up so badly that I had missed the opportunity all together. And I sank. Hard. It took several hours and a lot of self-love and care to pull out of that spin.

Thank God I can.

Back to the book.

Gilbert repeatedly addresses that the bravery and light that comes from and through creative living is not limited to those of us with books, gallery showings, and the like. It’s about taking something that makes you happy, that lets you breathe clearer. It’s listening to a song on repeat because it brings the good tears to your eyes. It’s knitting because you love seeing people wear your gifts. It’s writing because it feels like a good hot shower and how clean you feel after you get all the anger out.

This book has a couple of good lines about sociopaths and reckless three-year-olds that make me laugh every time I see it (I highlighted it so I would see it).

It’s a solid reminder of all the things I need to tell myself, but I’m terrible at actually doing. But having the right person tell me that I need something? Yeah, I’m more likely to do it.

Procrastination has been my best excuse for the longest time. But I’ve been overusing it. It’s a tool, and I need to treat it like one, not like an appendage. It’s great when you’re staring at a blank page for fifteen minutes trying to pull your brain into gear and you’ve got all the other things you need to do running through your mind. You have several choices at that point. Work on all the other things, or make a list to deal with them later. I’ve been choosing option C which is to make the list and do nothing about either things.

It’s not good. I should be firmly launched in my writing career if I’d just acted on my ideas instead of hiding them in a closet. You wanna know how I know that?

Because the last year I doubled the content on my blog because I just actually started doing things with it, and my views went up too? So if I had done what I planned after graduation and keep this blog running, and running off at the mouth too, I’d have a lot more the interest people into visiting and coming back. I’d have more of a chance anyways. Who knows where I’d be without the things I’ve done in the last 10 years. Anyways this is not to be a whiny what-if post. It’s about the what-now situation I’ve got going.

So this year, my motto is “Fear is boring” because that is the root cause of all of my procrastination. It’s the reason I don’t go research writing gigs and articles like I should. I’m afraid no one will like me, I’m afraid it won’t be good enough, I’m afraid, I’m afraid, I’m afraid.

This fear has become paralyzing and it’s hit past the dangerous point.  And I’m stopping this runaway train before it gets any further from the intended destination. I’m driving this journey, taking Creativity along for the ride, and Fear is currently locked in the trunk. Just this year though. I do recognize that fear is a survival method and tool, but it’s got way too much power. Especially since I’m not living in survival mode anymore.

I plan on living. Who’s with me?

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 Her books?

p.s.Have fun. My best wishes on your own journey to the best version of yourself you’ve ever seen.