What happens when you admit you’re far, far away from the finish line

I recently bid farewell to my therapist who is retiring. As we looked back our five years of on-and-off sessions, I came upon a theme that summed up our work together: I no longer enter races that I can’t win.

In my own life, my habit of entering such races was a badge of honor. I was a perfectionist, an overachiever, a person who thought she could outsmart the whims of the universe if she just planned, organized, and worked hard enough. …

The practice of sama vritti is a perfect way to mark the year’s transitions.

In the midst of life’s chaos, few things provide more certitude than the earth’s fixed points. The autumnal equinox — which this year will occur on September 22 in the Northern Hemisphere—is one such point. Twelve hours of light, twelve hours of dark. No matter what happens in the news that day, that fact will remain. It’s reassuring to think about.

I’ve written before about how the breath is a powerful tool we can use to drop into our bodies in the moment. But it’s also a way we can punctuate the year, manage big transitions in life, and find…

The best self-help advice aims hopelessly low

A couple of weeks ago I woke up in a rotten mood. Like, really rotten.

I absolutely did not want to get up and deal with any of the things I was supposed to. I felt pessimistic, depressed, and laden with all the world’s woes. I had felt like that all week, and there was not a self help guru in the world who could have convinced me I had any hope of feeling otherwise.

But then my partner, who is somewhat of an expert at getting through bad days, delicately suggested a walk. Not a big one — just…

What if doing nothing is aspirational after all?

I love doing nothing, but if I’m honest, I find it rather hard to get to a place where I’m able to do just that.

It’s embarrassing to admit, but I often have to set aside days where I don’t accomplish much of anything. When those days come, I revel in them, but it’s usually only because I’ve completed enough housework, life admin, and actual work to feel like I can get away with it.

My difficulty with doing nothing is perhaps why I’m so thrilled by reading about the “lie flat” movement, a defiant, subversive trend popularized by Chinese…

A process filled with humility, annoyance, and roundabouts

Yesterday I passed my driving test. Again. The first time I did it I was 16 years old and lived in California. This time, I am 31 and passed it in England —on the other side of the road, of course.

The fact that I had to do this whole process over agin — learn the highway code, take a theory test, pay for way too many hours of lessons, and pass a physical driving test—was a source of deep frustration for me, especially in a pandemic. But no one ever said being a citizen of two countries would not…

Making something fractionally more difficult has a way of clarifying whether you need to do it

A couple of months ago, I decided I was going to stop putting my usual half a teaspoon of sugar into my cup of coffee in the morning. It was a small change, but part of a broader effort to cut down sugar in my diet.

I didn’t want to rid my entire pantry of sugar, lest I need it for some future baking adventure or to even out a sauce. So I simply took the small sugar bowl and lid that lived next to the coffee jar on my countertop, and dumped its contents into the bin.

For the…

All hail the unsung hero of a quiet, hyperlocal life

The corner shop. The convenience store. The bodega, conbini, off-license. No matter what you call it or where you find it, the corner shop is really the unsung hero of a simple life. And in the WFH space-time continuum, it’s often the only way to break up a workday.

I’ve long had a great affection for corner shops and convenience stores. I suspect it might stem from the fact that walking to the local market to buy otherwise un-allowed junk food (usually Hostess products) was the first thing I was allowed to do alone in my pre-teen years. …

In a time of great uncertainty, a dose of pessimism can be a balm

When it comes to my nationality, I often play both sides of the fence, or perhaps more appropriately, the Atlantic. Though I’ve lived in the UK for ten years and have British parents, I spent the first 21 years of my life in the US, where I was born. I hold passports to each country.

As such, my shifting cultural loyalties can feel like a table tennis (or ping pong) match. I have a well-rehearsed diatribe about why I don’t live in the US and don’t plan to go back: guns, the ludicrous and ruinous healthcare system, poor infrastructure, no…

A 10-minute exercise that can help you get a handle on everything that’s happening in your life

There’s a drawing by New Yorker cartoonist Liana Finck that I think about often. A cross-section of a woman’s brain reveals partitions containing everything from thoughts about the climate disaster and work deadlines to what to have for lunch and the prospect of kangaroos going extinct.

It’s funny because it’s true: Our brains comprise so much, from the utterly inconsequential to the terrifyingly existential, all day every day.

But when life feels overwhelming — and truly, when does it not?—I’ve noticed that my brain’s system for allocating real estate can go a little haywire. I will start to make space…

If you’re self employed, ask yourself these two questions before taking on your next project

I’ve always felt most comfortable working for myself. I decide when I work, what’s worth it and what’s not, and I don’t have to pretend to be loyal to the amorphous concept of “company culture”—a phrase which has always made me feel slightly nauseous.

However, having recently returned to self employment after some time away, I’m rethinking how I approach working for myself. Specifically, which work I say yes to, and which work I decline.

When I first started working as a self employed writer more than ten years ago, I was very much in the “say yes to everything”…

Rosie Spinks

Writing about how to create a meaningful life in a chaotic world. Formerly a lifestyle and business reporter. Find me: rojospinks.com @rojospinks.

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