Hello, my friend :)
It’s been just over four months, since I sent my last newsletter. A lot has changed in that time, and there are also a lot of new people who are hearing from me for the first time. So I’m here to say: hello to all! A very belated “happy new year”. And before starting the next season of the newsletter next week, I thought it would be nice to share some of what I’ve been doing, consuming + thinking about so far this year. Future newsletters may not make sense, without this info.
What I’ve Been Doing
Overall, the first few months of 2019 have generally been pretty quiet. I created a nice routine: writing first thing in the morning, going to the gym/hiking in the afternoon, visiting with friends (and spending many hours/days holding the new identical twin girls born to one of my oldest friends!) and having a night at home. As much as I like to challenge myself, I’ve also accepted that routine really does help me get things done—as well as supports my mental health.
What has made this a little more interesting is that I’ve done all of this in my hometown, Victoria, BC. Last summer, I began to wonder what it would be like to give up my apartment and travel full-time for a year. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but it also seemed like a natural extension of how I’ve already been living. And so, after sitting on that question for some time, I ultimately decided to give it a go. I gave up my apartment in Squamish and left there at the end of 2018.
My idea, for this year anyway, is that I’ll spend a few months at my dad’s house in Victoria, and then spend the rest of the year travelling. I want to move fairly slowly, staying in places for at least one month at a time—and that’s both so I can maintain my routine and enjoy the new places I’m in. It’s not something everyone would enjoy, and I certainly won’t sell it as a dream, but it’s feeling quite natural, so far.
At the moment, I’m sitting at a cafe in London. I’m here for most of April, then will likely spend May in Scandinavia, and June/July in Austria and Germany. That could change, but this is the general plan for the first half of 2019. I’m still looking at places to stay (hopefully near some nature/the mountains) where I can walk to a grocery store and coffee shop. If any cities/towns come to mind, or you have a vacation home I can rent, I’m open to suggestions. :)
So, that’s a fairly big update on my personal life, I suppose! Aside from that, I’ve actually been working a lot. The paperback version of The Year of Less came out in January, and I did two events to support that: one at Powell’s in Portland, the other for a great group of people in Nashville. But most of the work I’ve been doing this year was on my proposal for book #2. And I’m so happy to share that it was acquired by Little, Brown Spark a few weeks ago!
I’ll be able to tell you a lot more about that, as time goes on. For now, I’m excited to share the title: ADVENTURES IN OPTING OUT. It should be ready for you in fall 2020. :)
What I’ve Been Consuming
Whew! Ok, that was a pretty massive update, haha. But oddly, I’m more excited to share what I’ve been consuming + thinking about so far this year. Because that’s the nitty gritty stuff, right? Some of the details that make up our days!
At the start of 2019, I still felt completely tapped out of nearly everything happening online—and in a lot of ways, that hasn’t changed. The general feeling I get when I look at most blogs/social media profiles is that everyone is an expert and they are all prescribing expertise I’ll never have or yet another long list of things I will never achieve, all of which, ultimately, just makes me feel worse about myself. And I can’t read it anymore.
I’ve been craving stories. Journeys to follow. Even just the “boring” (NOT BORING) updates we used to share on blogs. Like what are you thinking about right now? What have you been curious enough to actually learn more about? And where are the BEGINNERS!? Where are the people who are raising their hands and saying “I have no idea what I’m doing, but here’s what I’m attempting and my progress so far”? I miss those days. Blogging was actually fun, back then.
In the absence of reading whatever is on the internet these days, I’ve picked up more books this year. Way more than usual. To date, I’ve read 14 (about 4 per month)! And aside from Company of One and Digital Minimalism (both of which I love), they have been memoirs and works of fiction. Stories. Real-life thoughts and lessons. Characters you are rooting for (or some you’re not). And my gosh, it has felt both indulgent, and like a really positive shift.
A few of my faves so far have been:
- Becoming by Michelle Obama (listened to the audiobook, which she narrated)
- Come Back Frayed by Colin Wright (the first line basically described me to a tee)
- Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard (a mix of personal stories and lessons)
- No Happy Endings by Nora McInerny (I appreciate her and love the message of this story)
- ***The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer + Annie Barrows
***THIS BOOK! UGH, so good! I read it after watching the movie (for the second time) and believe it is one I will read again and again. It’s written entirely in letters being sent between people, and has inspired an idea for this newsletter.
You might remember that last year I basically unsubscribed from everything, including most newsletters and podcasts. I also stopped using Twitter. Part of this was to help with the general sense of overwhelm re: how much content exists (reminder: you can’t read, watch and do everything). But I was also curious how my thoughts about them all might change. And change, they have! There were a few newsletters I missed (and a few more I unsubscribed from). And I kept experimenting with Twitter, but don’t think I’ll ever go back there. It’s simply too hostile.
The change with podcasts was a little bigger. First, I not only unsubscribed from them all but also deleted every episode I had downloaded. A little digital declutter, I suppose. Then, whenever I missed a show, I would download the latest episode that sounded interesting. Sometimes I enjoyed them, but I haven’t subscribed to any of them. Instead, I’ve taken recommendations from friends to listen to a specific episode of a podcast, and have found so many new voices and topics that way. I’ve also found a few people I enjoy and listened to many interviews they’ve done, so I can learn more.
This isn’t particularly helpful, I’m sure, but I’m sharing because it’s been yet another act of letting go. Releasing the expectation that you have to follow something entirely from beginning to end, and being ok with the fact that some things only come into your life for a reason or a season.
Anyway, here are the few podcasts I’ve listened to more than one episode of:
- Climate One – candid conversations about energy, the economy and the environment. I started by devouring the episodes with Yvon Chouinard (who I’m fascinated with right now).
- Front Burner – my new fave podcast by the CBC. Every weekday, Jayme Poisson takes one of the big stories in Canada and helps you understand what’s going on, what the impact is, etc.
- Making Sense – Sam Harris changed the name of his podcast, which threw me off. I’ve listened to the eps with Jack Dorsey (Twitter) and Roger McNamee (Facebook). Also have the one on digital capitalism downloaded.
- Real Talk Radio – Nicole has done TWENTY (20) seasons of this show now and I still love it! Have a few episodes from the new season downloaded for upcoming travel days. :)
- The Slow Home Podcast – Brooke and Ben decided to change the format of the podcast and start doing it in seasons, which I am always in favour of (change is healthy). It was also lovely to hear about their journey home.
What I’ve Been Thinking About
The better question might be: what haven’t I been thinking about this year? As you can imagine, with giving up my home, selling another book, travelling full-time, there’s a lot on my mind. For the sake of keeping things simple, I’ll share two topics and some of the thoughts I’ve had around them both. I will preface this by saying there are no answers here. Just thoughts, questions, etc. :)
- A few months ago, I listened to this podcast called The Dream. It’s about the history of MLMs (multi-level marketing companies) and I devoured all 11 episodes within a week. There were so many interesting points shared throughout it (including people’s experiences with them) but there was one that really stood out for me: the fact that, yes, there are some people who make a lot of money with MLMs. But they are the 1%. The majority of the money they earn comes from the people they have recruited. And while MLMs haven’t disappeared, more and more people now see them for what they are and avoid them at all costs. While I was listening, the only thing I could think about was: wow, this sounds a lot like selling the dream of being a full-time blogger. Yes, some people make a lot of money doing it. But they are the 1%. The majority of the money they earn comes from people clicking on affiliate links, buying products, etc. And people can package up their tips, tricks and expertise, but they can’t sell their unique experiences, character traits, or skills that help them do what they do. A few questions I’ve pondered since: I wonder how long the “make money online” industry will continue to seem appealing? If this hasn’t happened already, I wonder when people will begin to avoid blogs that talk about ways to make money, the same way we avoid friends who join MLMs and try to sell us products we don’t need? And I wonder if/when the whole thing will crumble? Maybe never! Actually, probably never! But anyway, that one podcast series opened my eyes in a way I wasn’t expecting when I first started listening.
- How can I do more to help the planet? It’s the one question I’ve thought about more than anything else, this year. And it’s scary to start writing and sharing any of the thoughts that have come up for me, because I only know enough to know I don’t know much of anything yet lol. I am not an expert on the environment or climate change or consumption or waste or anything else. I’m also not interested in becoming an expert or trying to be “perfect”. But I’m standing in the place most of my other personal journeys have begun: where I’m starting to notice things and pay more attention, ask questions and figure out what feels right for me, before taking too many steps down a new and unknown path. One thing I have done is committed to donating 1% of my income to environmental causes via 1% For The Planet. I’ve also been looking for more podcasts on these topics, so I can find new people to learn from, books to read, etc. If you have any suggestions, I’m all ears! Please! Anything you want to share. :)
Ok, I’ll leave it there for today, my friend! I’ll be starting up my newsletter again next week, and have a fun idea for it that I’m excited to share with you. But now I’d love to hear from you. How has 2019 been so far? What’s on your mind? Is there anything you want to learn more about this year?
This was originally shared in my newsletter.