Inch by Inch, part April

by Dian Reid-Jancic· Follow Dian on

I don’t know how it went for you, but April moved through my life pretty quickly. Much learning was ingested, both personally and academically, although I didn’t always make time for writing it down. Thus, this recap of learning for the month of April is a bit sparse. And yet, contrary to popular belief, just because it didn’t get written down (or photographed or posted on [social media]) most certainly doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen.

Here are some April notes-to-self for you to steal/borrow/leave right here, at your choosing:

  • sometimes honoring one relationships means neglecting another and this is ok
  • it’s fine to not care what other people think; just don’t stop caring how other people feel (adapted from a @mmeditations OpenCircle note)
  • sometimes having a conversation with a stranger is more important than [that “important” thing you were just about to do] #becausehonortherelationship
  • don’t assume someone else’s motives, questions , or actions just because you have learned something before (you think) they did
  • make suggestions based on what will help, not trashing what came before
  • you can actively slow your heart rate by slowing your breath
  • it’s okay if you love something someone else thinks is stupid or meaningless; this does not change your self worth

And now let the learning continue, my friends.

Inch by Inch, part March

by Dian Reid-Jancic· Follow Dian on

I mentioned last month that started keeping a list in Evernote with the tag “note to self” wherein I remind myself of things I think will help me be a better me tomorrow than I am today. While I had planned on writing in more detail about some of these things during the month of March, just because I didn’t get there doesn’t mean these things may not be useful to share on their own:

  • notice the subtle difference between doing well and being well, and when they intersect
  • instead of “I’ll do it later,” do it now if it will take you 5 minutes or less; wunderlist it if it will take you longer
  • overreacting to bad news doesn’t make the news any better; be patient with your response to it
  • practicing something for 5 minutes every day really does make a difference (and i can tell when you don’t do this like you said you would)
  • there will always be more to do — you have GOT to take time for yourself (hint: breathe, dammit!)
  • learn from the stories of people who were doing well halfway through [really important thing] and then tanked because they tried to coast
  • “if it’s not on [social media/tracking site] it didn’t happen” is 100% bullshit
  • learning requires “writing” whether that means actual writing or painting or photography or whatever else you consider writing for the purpose of learning
  • it’s ok to skip out for a beer during the week every now and then, especially when your wife’s college team is in the NCAA tournament
  • with respect to honoring the relationship, it’s ok to have an off day or week; let it stop there
  • when you recognize yourself rationalizing poor behavior, be honest with yourself and continue consciously as you see fit
  • when someone treats you poorly, try to see past their actions to attempt to understand their humanness
  • compartmentalizing works well for organization, but not for life; organize well so you can access information easily and use it diversely
  • quit things because you want to quit them, not because other people tell you you should
  • social media is a great way to stay in touch with friends, acquaintances, and loved ones as long as you have boundaries in place
  • sleep is the most important thing you will do today

Challenging yourself to be a better you isn’t always easy, but it’s always worth it.

The dichotomy of only and always

by Dian Reid-Jancic· Follow Dian on

Our ordinary mind always tries to persuade us that we are nothing but acorns and that our greatest happiness will be to become bigger, fatter, shinier acorns: but that is of interest to only pigs. Our faith gives us knowledge of something better: that we can become oak trees.

–E.F. Schumacher

I sometimes get caught up in my own little world and forget that there is something, someone more I can be if I just let free this awful thought in my brain that I will only be who I am now. If I can uncage this thought it can morph into its truth, that I will always be who I am now.

Only keeps the cage locked, trapping me inside this little acorn, trying to bust out of what will always be this tiny little acorn, no matter how much bigger or fatter or shinier I become. If I hold fast to this belief that I am only and I will only be this acorn I am now, then this becomes my truth.

I will only be who I am now.

But always, always is freeing. It allows for depth and expansion and wisdom that will always have come from that tiny little acorn, and is now allowed to grow into her own oak tree. Always being the acorn I am now means there is room for this acorn and all the expansion that will come from its growth. With always there is now room for depth of roots and expansion of branches and perhaps housing or recreation for squirrels (or pigs, if you don’t live in the city).

I will always be who I am now, and also whoever grows from here.

With that, I find much happiness. What about you?

Ever meet someone and think they’re awesome and then after you continue to develop a relationship with them, realize a few red flags may have been missing from that first encounter? Or maybe you met someone and your first impression was meh but it wasn’t until the fifth meeting you realized this was a relationship worth developing?

Google quotes on first impressions and you’ll find most people put first impressions on a pretty high pedestal. While I do believe in the importance of always trying to put your true self forward in a first meeting, I also know how often I fail at this in my own life, and that I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt to just about any relationship I come into contact with.

Take for instance, my first two weeks of college in January. It had been (mumbled)+ years since I’d been a full-time student. I prepared by taking a course on learning how to learn, buying my books and class materials early, and reviewing the syllabi for all my classes before day 1. Week one was a breeze. Mostly getting to know the professors and reviewing the syllabi I’d already diligently gone through for each class. Week two we got started on some actual education, including in-class learning and homework. My relationship with school was going swimmingly. We were getting along great, and then week three punched me in the face. Assignments due in three of my five classes. An essay due the following week for one class and an exam for another class, along with written assignments due for three other classes, and one more for the class I was already writing an essay for.

First impression of college: easy peasy, as long as you’re prepared!
Truth: totally doable, as long as you adjust to stay prepared!

I could have allowed my relationship with school to become strained. To allow my gremlins to tell me I couldn’t hack it, that it was time to go back to the real world and get a job, and stop wasting time with all this academic education I didn’t need anyway. But when I look at the reason I went back to school, it wasn’t because I was lacking in education, but because I was desiring more and of a different variety. Totally different relationship.

So I nixed that first impression from my brain and focused on the relationship I wanted to have with college:

  • healthy
    • enough time to do well and also be well
    • learning without overwhelm
    • you’re older than 50% (okay, 80%) of your classmates — let it go
  • loving and playful
    • enjoy all this new information
    • enjoy the people you’re surrounding yourself with
    • enjoy the before, the after, and the during
  • earnest
    • put in the work to do well
    • learn for learning’s sake, not for credit’s sake
    • apply your learning to your daily life


If I focus on the relationship, school doesn’t have to be harder than I thought it was going to be. It’s just school, and I get to develop that relationship as we go. This is life, not just school. If you focus on the relationship–whatever relationship you might be struggling with–it doesn’t have to be as hard as it feels. Take a deep breath, slow the f*** down, and be open to adjusting whatever is necessary to truly honor that relationship.


Inch by Inch, part February

by Dian Reid-Jancic· Follow Dian on

I’m keeping a list in Evernote with the tag “note to self,” which I add to daily and read through weekly. Sometimes I don’t know what the hell I was talking about when I wrote it (perhaps I need a #notetoself to clarify notes to self). Sometimes they’re specific to a task that I don’t do on the regular, and sometimes they relate to my life at a foundational level.

Here are a few I found useful during the month of February:

  • plan your sleep like you plan your study sessions, and stick to that plan as often as possible
  • fuel your day with food that makes you happy on the inside and out
  • be honest with yourself when you’re avoiding someone or something
  • be honest with yourself about why you’re angry with your animals
  • f*** first impressions and focus on the relationship
  • whenever you say to yourself, “just one more…” drop what you’re doing and ask yourself if your top 6 priorities of the day have been addressed yet
  • remember that sleep clears out toxins in the brain so you can think clearer while you’re awake
  • be open to creativity, but only if you’re willing to commit to it
  • you can’t say yes to everything; you’ll turn into an angry beast who resents the things and people you’re saying yes to
  • slow the f*** down; everything will be just fine no matter what happens
  • you can’t say no to everything, you’ll turn into an isolated hermit who doesn’t relate to the real world or the people who live in it
  • don’t hold on to clothes, people, or things that no longer fit you
  • read instructions thoroughly unless you want to waste your time by doing something incorrect or incomplete first (part of slow the f*** down)
  • putting something on a list does not make it a priority, even if you name that list “Top Priorities”

Some of these are a lot easier said than done, but as with all things, I’m still a work in progress. We all are. Progress is made as long as we’re moving forward, whether its by leaps and bounds or step by step, inch by inch.

Speaking of step by step and inch by inch … enjoy this, if you have a few minutes for a laugh, courtesy of Lucile Ball (adapted from Abbott and Costello, of course).

Slow the f*** down

by Dian Reid-Jancic· Follow Dian on

Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
—Mary Oliver, The Summer Day

This isn’t a prompt to get anyone thinking about life on a deeper level (of course, let it be whatever it is to you). For me this is a clear and marked reminder to slow the fuck down.

I had a whole post written, complete with a conversation reminding myself to honor the relationship and the rest will fall into place, but it didn’t get to the heart of what I wanted to say:

Slow the fuck down.

That’s really it. We have a choice to be present in life or to rush through it pretending we’re too busy or cool to take notice and be conscious about who we are, not just who we say we are.

So slow the fuck down and make that choice. And then you can take credit for every last second of your one wild and precious life.


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