Priming Ourselves

My father is a perfectionist wall-painter. The walls of our home are “like glass.” I guarantee you that you have never, ever, experienced walls as perfectly painted as these.

At one summer barbecue, my cousins were telling us about their d-i-y home upgrades. They had painted some window trim and were really happy with what a fast project it was. “But surely you didn’t just paint it right on?” my father asked, incredulously. “You made sure to sand and prime first, right?”

“Of course you’re supposed to,” my cousin replied, “but we just wanted it done.”

Until that point in my life (I was at least 20), I didn’t actually realize that it was possible to just paint something.

Every wall in our home which ever required any painting or re-painting had to be first sanded, then wiped with a not-too-wet-but-perfectly-damp cloth, then vacuumed, then sanded, wiped, and vacuumed again. Before the first layer of primer even went on. If you didn’t do all the priming correctly, the painting was ruined. 90% of painting was not actually painting. Continue Reading

Stop Saying You Want the Goal and Start Saying You Want the Process

I had a recent moment of self-revelation brought on by my hair, of all things.

Have you ever found yourself wanting something, but not willing to go through what it takes to have it?

Wanting to be at the top of your field, but not willing to put in the long years of study to get there?

Wanting to have great arms/ a flat stomach/ thinner thighs, but not willing to work out and cut back on sugar?

Wanting to earn a great salary but not willing to spend decades of your life building a career?

I realized that I always want my hair to look great (who doesn’t? I guess) – but not just generically great. Great like perfectly done great. Not the trendy “messy bun” look, or “beach waves” which can be fudged with a bit of spray. No, I consistently want my hair to look completely perfect, like I’m on a movie set.

But the process of actually doing my hair perfectly every day? No way. Washing it, spending lots of money on hair products, the time it takes to blow-dry and set and on and on… I don’t want the process. I just want the end result! I want the benefits without the cost. Continue Reading

20 Minutes a Day

Photo Courtesy of Unsplash

Ann Pachett has some great advice on writing that applies to an awful lot of our endeavours in life:

“If you want to write and can’t figure out how to do it, trying picking an amount of time to sit at your desk every day. Start with twenty minutes, say, and work up as quickly as possible to as much time as you can spare. Do you really want to write? Sit for two hours a day. During that time, you don’t have to write, but you must stay at your desk without distraction: no phone, no Internet, no books. Sit still quietly. Do this for a week, for two weeks. Do not nap or check your e-mail. Keep on sitting for as long as you remain interested in writing. Sooner or later you will write because you will no longer be able to stand not writing, or you’ll get up and turn the television on because you will no longer be able to stand all the sitting. Either way, you’ll have an answer.”

—From “The Getaway Car” in This is the Story of a Happy Marriage


What do you need to try for 20 minutes a day?

Choosing Margin in Life

Photo Courtesy of Unsplash

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about hurrying and stress and the kind of life I want to lead. I don’t thrive on being rushed – in my activities or in my soul.

I didn’t come to this realization until later in life: when I was younger, I just rushed around feeling low-level terrible, occasionally falling quite ill, and being generally irritated with people when I was in a hurry, which was most of the time. Continue Reading


Anne Boegel has a great piece up on time management. Instead of the usual, “here are better ways to save time,” she reflects on the feeling of having more time. Here’s her insight: Hurrying makes you feel hurried.

Isn’t this just a truism? Maybe. But I found myself nodding in agreement, because I’ve spent the last year and half wondering why I’m always slightly annoyed when I have to go anywhere or do anything. Part of it’s London, sure – the crowds, the pollution, the noise.

But part of it is me. Continue Reading