As a long-time reader of Melissa Camara Wilkins, I was excited to include her book in our 2020 Book Club selections. In this candid conversation Melissa shares how she stays grounded and connected to what matters most. We talk about simple strategies to ensure your needs are met and how to set more authentic and realistic goals. This is the perfect conversation to begin our wrap-up of the Habits journey.
Melissa Camara Wilkins 0:00
There's so many good things we could have or we could do or we could want. But the more that we let in of those good things, the less space we have for the best things, the things that matter absolutely most to us.
Jennifer Wilson 0:11
Welcome to Scrapbook Your Way, the show that explores the breadth of ways to be a memory keeper today. I'm your host, Jennifer Wilson, owner of Simple Scrapper and author of The New Rules of Scrapbooking. This is Episode 104. In this episode, I'm joined by Melissa Camara Wilkins to chat about caring for you alongside your family, regrouping on your New Year's goals and her book Permission Granted. Hey, Melissa, welcome to the podcast.
Melissa Camara Wilkins 0:42
Hey, Jennifer, thanks so much for having me.
Jennifer Wilson 0:43
Yes, I am. So looking forward to our conversation today. Can you share a little bit about yourself so our audience can get to know you?
Melissa Camara Wilkins 0:51
Absolutely. So I am Melissa Camara Wilkins, I'm the author of Permission Granted: Be Who You Were Made to Be and Let Go of the Rest. And I am a mom of six kids and we live in Southern California. And my, I feel a little weird thing that six kids since my oldest is a serious grown up. Now our oldest is 20. Which I don't even know how that's possible. But our oldest is 20. And our youngest is 7. So we're kind of, we have something everywhere. Right now. We're like elementary school, middle school, high school, college. All the all the parenting things going on.
Jennifer Wilson 1:23
Awesome. So what is one thing exciting you right now? Typically we are talking to scrapbookers because that is our audience. But really, it could be anything at all in the world of product, an app, a class, a person, an idea. So just something that's really jazzing you up.
Melissa Camara Wilkins 1:39
So fun. Okay, so every single day, this might sound super boring, every single day, the exciting thing that I have going on, for sure is a great cup of tea. Like literally, you can't there's it can't be a day until we've got the good tea going on. So right now like at this very moment, what I have in front of me is a tea called Sweet Clementine Stress Relief. And it is from Yogi, and it's so sweet and just citrusy and lovely. And we're recording this on a very grey day. So having that little uplifting like citrusy note after lunch has been it's just it's lovely. Like a nice little thing to look forward to.
Jennifer Wilson 2:17
You know, so what's so interesting about this is that I really don't like tea. Other than that one.
Melissa Camara Wilkins 2:24
Really? Oh, that's fascinating.
Jennifer Wilson 2:25
Yeah, it's like it's so you know, it's so light and bright. And not so tea.
Melissa Camara Wilkins 2:33
It's yeah, totally is. It's like this little citrusy, I don't know, yummy little thing. It's not quite a juice, but sort of in that direction.
Jennifer Wilson 2:39
It's almost that direction. Yeah, no, I, I've you know, I've tried to really like tea over the years. And I could do a good sweet tea here and there. Because it's basically, sugar water. But yeah, that Sweet Clementine one is just so amazing.
Melissa Camara Wilkins 2:54
It's really good.
Jennifer Wilson 2:55
Yeah, I used to, I bought like a case of it. And I had it in my office when I was working on campus and my coworkers would come and grab one and then all of a sudden, we're out cuz everyone loved it. So. But there's something to be said about that. Just that ritual and having that special thing. And I think we'll talk a lot about that today in our conversation.
Melissa Camara Wilkins 3:14
Yeah, absolutely. It's such a simple thing. And it's like just for you know, nobody else minds if you do it or the to do or not to. It's just totally up to you on that one.
Jennifer Wilson 3:24
Yes, I love that. So one of the other kind of little intro segments we've been doing here this year is talking about our personality types. And if you know your either your Myers-Briggs or your Enneagram type, I'm curious how you think that impacts how you look at simplicity, or minimalism, or life in general?
Melissa Camara Wilkins 3:44
Oh, yeah. Okay, so I have so many thoughts here. I love all the personality tests and things. My Myers-Briggs, I believe, is INFJ. Although I'm way less knowledgeable about all the Myers-Briggs things. I know, there's a whole universe out there to explore. But I do think that's my type. And then Enneagram, I'm an Enneagram, 4, with a very serious 5 wing. And I've been told that if you read even the very beginning of Permission, Granted, you are not surprised to learn that I'm a 4. I'm told that comes through. So that's fun. And so I'll tell you kind of how I see the minimalism simplicity stuff and you can tell me if you think that relates to the personality pieces of it.
Jennifer Wilson 4:29
Melissa Camara Wilkins 4:31
So personally, for me, it's a little bit of survival in the the need for minimalism and simplicity. I have a lot of kids, and I have a lot of ideas. And if we're going to have space for those things that are super important to us, right, those relationships and those projects. I don't have time and space for all of the other stuff that wants to get in and have space in my life, and in my head, in my calendar. So for me, it's like this very necessary paring back of stuff, of extra commitments, of just extra, other people's expectations on me. To make room for the stuff that is most important to me and to my people. So, you know, when they were small, I remember there was one time that we were moving house or moving from one space to a little bit bigger spaces, we were having more kids. And I was packing things up, each thing is, I would look at it and put it in the box, I would think, you know, do we need this thing? You know, do we still are using this thing, and I would go in the box. And then after a little while, there's so much to do. And so you know, many little people with needs at that moment that I was like, oh, dear, we're going to run out of time to get everything moved from one house to another house. And I realized, as I was packing things up, I could switch that from, you know, are we do we still want this? Do we still need this, too? Could we live without this? Could we, could we just live without this thing? And if we could, I didn't have to pack it up, I could just let that thing go. And I would never have to unpack it again at the new house, and find a new place to live, and dust it or organize it or, you know, take care of that thing. And just free up so much more space. So for me having that, you know, that weight removed of this extra stuff, of extra things on the calendar, it just makes so much space for the things that matter most to us. Like there's so many good things, there's so many good things we could have. Or we could do or we could want. But the more that we let in of those good things, the less space we have for the best things, the things that matter absolutely most to us. So for me, there's a little bit of that just survival, like just get through the day and the get to all the needs with all the people. And then on the more intentional side, it's about making space for what really matters the most to me and...
Jennifer Wilson 6:46
Do you think you've always been good at that kind of letting go? Or did you have to evolve into it as you identify the values that were really important to you?
Melissa Camara Wilkins 6:56
Yeah, no, absolutely. I was not, I'm not born that way. No, that was a learning thing, for sure. And I feel like I was so lucky that there were so many needs and demands on my attention. Because that meant I really did have to focus on what mattered the most to me, or else I just wasn't going to get to it. So having having that pressure of like, oh, these are the limits. These are the people and the things and the needs that all need my attention, was really a focusing thing for me. And my husband and I had our first daughter, right after college. We got married and our, right before our senior year of college, and then our daughter was born more than a year later. So like right after college, so really, my formative adult years were spent in that place of like, oh, hey, there's all this stuff going on. And I'm gonna need to practice letting go and letting go and letting go. So I feel like I was lucky in that sense of getting to practice that in a big way and early on. But it was not definitely not a natural inclination.
Jennifer Wilson 7:58
When I think it's so interesting that you there was a there's always like a choice, a pivot point there. Like I can choose to fix the situation or evolve or pivot. Or I can choose to, I don't know, like, crumble in the face of the overwhelm. Yeah. And sometimes it doesn't feel like there's a choice. But I think ultimately there is. We get to choose how how we're going to move forward from here, and we have more, sometimes we have more power than we think we do.
Melissa Camara Wilkins 8:26
Yeah, it's so tricky, because I feel like there's so many expectations on us in particular, as women about what we're supposed to do, and what our lives are supposed to look like. And all the things we're supposed to take care of, and just, you know, naturally, effortlessly know how to do. And we don't, and there's no reason that those things should get our best attention and our best energy. And so it doesn't always feel like a choice. Usually it doesn't, because it's just this is just the way it's done. Right? This is just the way things happen and the way that everybody else is doing it. And when we can sit back and realize like, oh, you know what, I'm actually this person that I am this totally unique person with a unique backstory, and a unique personality, and a unique set of skills in the world. It's okay for me to do things my own way, the way it makes sense for me and for my life. When we can figure that out in each situation, it does open up so many more possibilities for us.
Jennifer Wilson 9:19
Well, that's so much of what we talked to talk about here on the podcast with regards to our creative hobbies. And not even just how we operate inside of our hobbies, but how we create the space in our lives to be able to show up to them and to have that time for ourselves. So one of the reasons I wanted to have you on, many of our members will already be familiar with your name because we read your book for our book club this past December. And it was...
Melissa Camara Wilkins 9:45
Jennifer Wilson 9:46
Yeah, It was. It was such a wonderful companion for the holiday season. And I don't know like a grounding point as we were starting to think about how we wanted to approach a new year. So could you tell us a little bit about how the book came to be?
Melissa Camara Wilkins 10:01
Yes, absolutely. Okay. So, as I mentioned, bunch of kids, I started writing when my third child was born. And I was just writing online at that point, writing, you know, a very, like, here's what we did today type blog. Because I just needed something that would stay done. You know, if you have small kids, or if you have pets, or if you've ever been around small kids or pets, you know, like, nothing stays done for very long, right? Like you make the breakfast and then they want lunch, and then...
Jennifer Wilson 10:28
Yes, that's a good point.
Melissa Camara Wilkins 10:31
Or, like, you do the laundry and then there's like a whole 'nother pile of things. As soon as the first one comes out of the dryer, it's just, you know, a little bit endless. And I needed something that would just stay done. That I could just do, hit the publish button, and it would still be there. You know, I could like leave that blog post come back an hour later, and it was still there. It didn't go anywhere.
Jennifer Wilson 10:47
And it wasn't asking for you any for anything.
Melissa Camara Wilkins 10:49
Not a thing. Yeah. Yeah. So that was what I started writing and ages and ages ago now. But as that continued and evolved over time, as things do. I found myself writing online as people were asking me to, around simplicity and minimalism, and around some parenting and family stuff, and also around some spirituality stuff. And I realized I would really love to be able to go deeper into all these things. And there just isn't really space for that on in a blog post. You know, even a really long blog post or involved one, it's just not, you just can't get quite to that same thorough a place that you can with longer form writing. And so I was really excited to be able to step back and bring together all those different ideas, and all those different stories and the pieces I was living with and learning, into a book form. So that felt just so good to be able to take all those ideas that we were talking about online, and bring them all into one place where we can all live together and kind of interact with each other a little bit more.
Jennifer Wilson 11:51
And it can be done too.
Melissa Camara Wilkins 11:54
Yeah, I think it's also done, it also just stays right on the bookshelf done, pretty amazing.
Jennifer Wilson 11:59
I'm curious what you learned about yourself writing it, because I know, you know, I've, I've written ebooks myself, and I've done a lot of things over the years. And I know that when you start a project, you think you're going a certain place. And then when you get done, you realize you've gone on a journey along with your writing.
Melissa Camara Wilkins 12:19
Yeah, Oh, absolutely. Gosh, so many things. So one thing that's been really interesting to me is, you know, in the book, I write about all the, you know, facing my own stuff. Right, like my own anxieties, and my own patterns, and just stuff, you know, all that stuff that we all have. And working through it, which was something I'd done before I started writing. You know, helps to know what it is that you're saying before you start writing it. But then, as I was going through the whole book publication process, and revisiting stuff again, and again, with different editors, and then releasing the book out into the world and talking about it, it was fascinating to me to watch that same stuff, come back up again. And the same things about oh, what is this person thinking? Or, you know, what, what's going to happen in this situation or that situation? And do I need to be anxious about this? Or can I really be myself here? And it was so fascinating to see those things come up again, and to get to remind myself like, okay, you know, this is something I've done before this feeling. Even though in this circumstance, I haven't done, you know, I hadn't published a book before. I haven't worked with these particular editors before. I hadn't done, you know, book publicity before in this particular way. But the feelings behind it all, the same feelings that came back up again, were things that were familiar. And so to have that chance to go, Okay, wait, you know, what, we have tools for this. Here's our chance to go back and use those same tools was really an interesting little thing that I did not see coming. But was fun to be able to put a foot on the other end now that I'm through it, to be able to say, oh, yes, okay, I do know how to process these feelings. I do know what to do with this. I do know that it's worth the risk of telling the truth or showing up as my whole self. In situations where I wasn't quite sure if that was welcome, not welcome, is that how it's supposed to go? And that I know that doing those things is always worth it.
Jennifer Wilson 14:10
What I think so much we, your book kind of opened the door to how much uncertainty we live with all the time, which I think the pandemic is only, like, literally exacerbated. But our brains are always asking these questions of like, is this okay, is this okay? And then even as moms, it's like even, you know, tenfold of like, am I doing this the right way? And who who's to say there is a one right way, but we're, there's that constant kind of internal questioning on top of the external questions that society is also giving you.
Melissa Camara Wilkins 14:43
Yeah, absolutely. Just gonna go over and over again in our brains.
Jennifer Wilson 14:47
So I'm curious how this past year maybe shifted or deepened your perspective on this idea of, of giving yourself permission.
Melissa Camara Wilkins 14:58
Yeah, and absolutely. So As you are kind of saying there, though, a lot of the message behind the book is that it is completely okay to be who you are, right? This is who you're meant to be this is this is you and you're allowed to be that person, you're allowed to have all the feelings you have. And all the uncertainties you have, and all the questions you have, that's all okay and allowed and you're allowed to have needs. And to meet those needs, that's all part of being human. And it's not because something went wrong. And it's not because you're doing it wrong, but things are hard or, you know, full of feelings or needs to be figured out. It's just that's part of being human. So, for me, at least, that has only been more clear and more true over this past year, that as we are all dealing with the just overwhelming just too much this of this year of work, and family and household and everything all at the same time. And all in the same place. And all one thing on top of the other thing. Yeah, it's even more important than ever to remember that you are person and you have needs. And those don't come after everybody else's, but alongside of everybody else's, right. Like I tend to think well, we're going to meet needs before wants, which sounds really good. But then I go and define everything that anybody else asks for as a need. And anything that comes up for me as a want. So I think, okay, we're here to everybody else's everything first, before I ever look at my own stuff, and what I need. And it doesn't work, you know, you are a person just as much as everybody else in your family as a person. And if you aren't able to show up as your whole self, your family's not as strong as it could be, right? You're a part of that whole thing, you're a part of that whole family, that whole community that whole you know, every piece that you're in, you're part of it. And if you aren't your whole full self, then it's not as strong as it could be. So remembering this year to, to bring my own needs alongside of everybody else's, instead of prioritizing theirs first in mine later, has been really, really important. And something I'm seeing with my friends, too, that just we have to keep remembering all of us, the kids and us, and our partners, and you know, whoever else is in your household, everybody is equally human, and everybody has needs that need to get met. And we don't have to put one above the other those can really happen alongside of each other. And for me, that's been a lot of habit building, right that I'm just doing a lot of that meeting my own needs by habit. Because if I wait until I decide, well, now it's the time that time never comes up, right? Just every place. We're like, oh, everything else is done and handled. I guess I'll go ahead and see what I need now. That's that's an imaginary place that we never get to. So being really conscientious about what are the habits I can do to take care of myself as I'm helping to take care of other people or as I'm showing them how to take care of themselves to throughout the day and throughout the week. And throughout the ongoing endless confusing time that is this year.
Jennifer Wilson 17:52
Yes. Well, and I think that's, that's such a powerful reframe, because I think we it's always presented as well, if I'm going to value myself and my own needs, I need to make, put myself first which inherently has this negative connotation because that means somebody else is not first.
Melissa Camara Wilkins 18:11
Jennifer Wilson 18:12
So by this, this idea of being alongside is really very, very powerful. And as you said, like showing that we all have value in humanity. And this, there can be this more of a symbiotic balance, I guess.
Melissa Camara Wilkins 18:29
Jennifer Wilson 18:30
Love that so much.
Melissa Camara Wilkins 18:31
Yeah. And I think sometimes we think our kids can't learn that, right. But they really can. And it's just such a gift to them to learn the empathy that even the adults have needs. And we can do all these things alongside each other. And we can make a little space for something that mom needs or something that dad needs. Just like they make space for what we need too. And as that is a practice for them as they grow up. That helps them make space for each other. But then it also reminds them that they're allowed to take up space too. And of course, I want my kids to take up space in the world now and always.
Jennifer Wilson 19:01
Yes. Beautiful. Love it. So one of the reasons I wanted to have you on the show was also because or how do I say this? One of the reasons I wanted to have you on the show now, this episode, will be going up around mid February was to kind of talk about this post New Year's goal hangover period. January is always so exciting and full of promise. And we have this tendency to commit to all the things and then by the time this time of the year rolls in, like we kind of have this new reality of like, oh, shot, what did I, what did I agree to, what and how have I, you know, maybe already failed myself? Why do you think this happens?
Melissa Camara Wilkins 19:44
Oh my gosh, that's a good question. Yes, I was definitely gonna be super organized by now and like have meal plans and also exercise is going to be amazing.
Jennifer Wilson 19:52
Melissa Camara Wilkins 19:52
That has yeah, definitely. We're not, we're not there. You know, I think there are a few things that happen for us in January. At least for in my own life, what I've seen, one thing that happens is that a lot of those goals that I like reach for as that New Year's coming up. Like, oh, it's all gonna be different, it's all gonna be so much better. A lot of those things are should goals, right? They're ideas that I've absorbed about how I should be in the world. And should is a very interesting thing. But it's not how I want to live my life. Right? Should is not actually a helpful to do list. Should is telling you about something that worked for somebody else, and what's helpful in their life. It's not actually the best driving force for me to figure out what I need in my life. So yeah, a lot of those goals are goals that were never mine to begin with. Right? Like, did I actually need six pack abs? No, that's never that was, that would never be a goal that came from me, that would be a goal that came from some totally other place that I don't need to take on. So at this point, as we're getting a little further away from that January, it becomes more and more obvious to me like the goals that are never going to happen, because they really weren't mine to begin with. If I can remember that, if I can identify it and say, oh, you know what, that goal just totally does not fit me. And then I don't judge myself around it and go, oh, why couldn't I get it done. It's no big deal. It was just, that was somebody else's goal. The trick is just noticing that like, oh, that I shouldn't take them on the first place. But then there's a second thing that also has been really helpful to me to notice, which is that sometimes the goals that I'm thinking about in January are the new things I want to take on really are mine. Like they really are right for me, or interesting to me are the things I want to explore. But if I don't set up a system or a habit around how it's actually going to happen, it just doesn't. You know, it's just like there wasn't room in my life before for this thing, so it's not going to magically appear just because it was January 1. So if there's stuff I want to add in, I have to figure out literally like, when in my day, is that going to happen? How will I remember that it's time to do that thing? How long am I going to spend on that thing, and like make an actual plan for the stuff I really do want to do, and, and bring into my life. And I personally, I live by the reminders app on my phone, like reminders for like everything throughout the day, Go eat lunch now. So that's been one really, really helpful way of just, you know, if there's a thing I want to do, and this is the thing, and this is the time I plan to do it, have that reminder pop up. So I actually remember to try that new thing and see how it fits.
Jennifer Wilson 22:33
Well, and I think sometimes also we have to, even if our goal is is, let's say X, Y or Z, and that's for later, that's for the year. That our goal for January isn't to be at X, Y, or Z, our goal is to be at A, B or C. It's to be, take that first step to start the you know, as James Clear, says, the first two minutes of the habit not to do the whole thing. You need to actually be able to build on it and make progress over time. Because so often, we're just like, I need to, I'm gonna, you know, I'm gonna have the six pack abs by the end of January, which was never realistic. But instead, we need to have okay, I'm going to start going to the gym once a week, as you know, the first baby step of that too.
Melissa Camara Wilkins 23:18
Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, for me, process goals feel so much better. Like I'm going to do this thing every day, or three times a week, or you know, whatever it is. Because that feels totally within my control. Right? I can be in charge of whether I do that thing for five minutes a day, or, you know, whatever that small habit is that builds up over time. But I know for some people actually, it's the opposite, I have a good friend who really needs that product goal, where she knows this is the thing I'm building toward. And that's what keeps her going. It's like I'm heading toward that place that XYZ place. And I think that's totally fine. It's just, you know, being aware of what works for you and your personality and your brain. What makes sense to just make sense to focus on the, I'm just, I'm doing this, this process stuff that I can be in charge of today, or I'm moving toward that thing over there. And I think they're both really great ways of going about it. As long as you know, it makes sense to you what fits for you?
Jennifer Wilson 24:07
Well, but personal understanding is so often the key to everything. Even you know, with our the personality conversation we had a few minutes ago. That the more that you can understand about yourself and how you operate, the more that you can use that information to make better decisions, and kind of just analyze your own past experiences to make better choices going forward.
Melissa Camara Wilkins 24:27
Jennifer Wilson 24:28
So to someone maybe who's in this little muddle of okay, well, I took on some goals that weren't mine. They were somebody else's goals and I bit off more than I can chew. Like, what's the best way do you think they can move forward from here? And to do so just to like in a really genuine, authentic way?
Melissa Camara Wilkins 24:49
Yeah. So we've all been there. If that's where you are right now. No, you are not alone. Like we've all we've all done that and probably most of us are doing right now. You know, I think It really helps to start by being honest with yourself about where you are right now, what is life giving? And what totally is not? And what can you let go of? And what do you need to bring back in? And so, for one, for one piece for me, one thing happens to me, as I'm taking all these pieces, and these, you know, step into new goals or whatever, and I'm realizing, okay, this isn't working. And sometimes our habits I've let go of to make room for that stuff. It's like, wait a minute, that the thing that was helping to me helping me, I've let go of and brought in stuff I didn't need. So getting back to like, Okay, what is it that I actually need in this in this moment in the season, whatever. And then making space for those things. So for example, for me, I tend to let go of sleep when I'm taking on new things. No, I don't need to sleep, I can just stay up forever and get all these things done. And that is just not true. Like sleep is the absolute most important thing for my mental health and well being. So when I get overwhelmed, I tend to need to step back and go to those, like very core things. Like do I need to get more sleep, do I need to eat more greens? Do I need a glass of water? You know, those very basic things first? And then trying to figure out like, okay, what are we going to do going forward from here? First, we're gonna pare back, we're gonna cut down to these super essential things that like, okay, I need this, I need to do this. And then think about what we're going to do going forward. For me, a daily practice has been really helpful in that is just a whole self check in. So this is checking in with my mind, my body, and my spirit. I try to do this first thing in the morning. And then anytime throughout the day, when I notice, like, I'm off track, I don't know how I got to this place. I'm trying to do things I'm not even, that are not my biggest, important things or lost in the weeds or whatever the thing is, to come back into that check in again, with my mind, my body, and my spirit. And see how I'm doing in each of those places. Because we are all of those parts, right? Like, we're not just a brain floating around. And we're not just a body trying to get through the day, we're all of these pieces together. So checking in, and for me, I tend to ignore my body until it starts shouting at me. So on purpose checking in is much more helpful than waiting for that. I need to ask, you know, what's my mind trying to let me know right now? Like, is my mind racing? Are there thoughts looping around? Is there like lurking anxiety back there that's trying to get my attention? Like what's going on in my brain right now? And address any of that than I need to. And then what am I feeling from a spiritual perspective? Like, how is my spirit doing my, my emotional well being, my connection, something bigger than myself? How am I doing in that area, too? And just seeing like, hey, what do I need next, in each of these places. For sure, at the beginning of the day, and then again, throughout the day, is just a really helpful way to keep moving forward. And feeling like I'm on the right track for me, as I go through my days.
Jennifer Wilson 27:54
I'm curious if you have once or often do this type of practice with your children or your partner? Like how does, is this part of your family life or something you do only yourself?
Melissa Camara Wilkins 28:08
That is a great question. So I do it myself, on my own first thing in the morning. And then as I took throughout that, and throughout the day. It isn't something I've talked with my kids about and practiced. None of them are like, this is my thing like this looks to me, which is fine. We do have each of them every day, pick some kind of centering activity, or mindfulness, mindfulness activity to do just so that they are getting practice in like a whole variety of things that might speak to them for their mindfulness. So like just, you know, practice some breathings like we do 478 breathing, where you breathe in for the count of four, hold with count of seven out for a count of eight. And do that a few times. And you're just aware of your breath. And they're, they can do that. And with a whole bunch of different breathing exercises, or mindfulness exercises, stress relief exercises, different stuff like that, that they can kind of pick from, so that they are getting a little bit of a smorgasbord of, of possible things that will be helpful to them as they grow.
Jennifer Wilson 29:11
Oh, I just I love that. And I just think that this this example of a practice is so powerful, and it's so it's ultimately very simple. I mean, it's it's uncomplicated. You can I'm curious, do you do this mentally? Do you journal about it? Like, how does this show up in your life?
Melissa Camara Wilkins 29:29
Yeah, it depends. Mostly, I'm doing it mentally, while I'm taking some deep breaths in the morning. It's quiet for five seconds before somebody notices that I'm awake. But if there's something bigger going on, then yeah, I turned to the journaling plan as step two for me, because, yeah, getting things out on paper is I think there's a magic there. Honestly, it's like you're using your brain. You're using your body to get it out. You're seeing whatever it is, that was on the inside of you that suddenly wants to be out in the world on the paper? And things just tend to feel more manageable, more understandable when they're out there right in front of me. So that's step two. But I'm, I'm, for simplicity sake, I just start with just mentally, what's going on? What do we need to do next?
Jennifer Wilson 30:17
Well and I think the more that you practice that I imagine the the easier it is to become aware of any disruption. When you, you're, you're much more able to identify when something isn't working so that you can make the course correction much earlier than then even mid February.
Melissa Camara Wilkins 30:33
Jennifer Wilson 30:34
If you're constantly checking in like that.
Melissa Camara Wilkins 30:36
Jennifer Wilson 30:37
And then something else you said, Go ahead.
Melissa Camara Wilkins 30:40
I say mid February energy, man, that's a whole thing. Even if you are practicing, then.
Jennifer Wilson 30:44
Melissa Camara Wilkins 30:46
Go on, go on.
Jennifer Wilson 30:48
I was just gonna say that one other thing that you said made me think about, the more that you have this awareness, then you can, if we're talking about these commitments we made in January, you can tap back into why? Why did I set that goal to start with? Like, how, how did I want to feel like what was I really going after, was it wasn't really about the number. It wasn't really about the the check mark, it was about something that you wanted to achieve, like a status, a feeling, a change, a shift in your life. And I think this kind of awareness that you're talking about can really help you tap into that, to be able to get back on a better course.
Melissa Camara Wilkins 31:29
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I like to think about what, what was the goal behind the goal, right? What was it I really actually wanted? And sometimes it helps if I ask why. So here's the goal. I'm not meeting it. Well, why was that my goal? And then I usually say something kind of surface like, oh, because I wanted, you know, to be stronger, or I wanted this to be smoother. Okay, well, why? Why do I want that?
Jennifer Wilson 31:49
Melissa Camara Wilkins 31:50
Well, because it usually takes a few of those rounds of, why that? Okay, great. So well but why that? Before I really get to the core of like, oh, because I wanted to be more confident in my body, or, you know, because I wanted to create more space in my day, or whatever it is that super core underlying thing behind the goal. And when I know that, then I can try to find ways of meeting that need that make more sense for me in my life and my family. Rather than just, you know, the magazine cookie cutter way that maybe I picked up somewhere on the internet. Or I picked up, you know, the idea that didn't work for me. But if I know what the core need is underneath that I can find a way to meet it that really does work for me.
Jennifer Wilson 32:32
Well and sometimes there's like a more direct path than maybe the one you were taking. When you really do peel back those layers to the core and you think, oh, well, I could have just, you know, eliminated something. And maybe sometimes you can peel it back to, I think of the examples of people who maybe have downsized their homes. That they weren't, they kept thinking they had this organization problem, and only if they bought more containers and, and sorted things in a different way. When really they just needed to change the size of their their larger container, their home, in order to have a new constraint so they could feel that space and the lightness that they wanted.
Melissa Camara Wilkins 33:11
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, organization, that's a tricky one. Because we always think, oh, well, if I just had a better system, or an organization or whatever. And sometimes that's true. Like, sometimes we do need a system. But so rarely, you know, even when my kids were really small, if the same toy was on the floor every night after they went to bed. Like the same, you know, the Legos are on the carpet every single night. I was like either we need to get rid of this thing, or have a totally different system. Those are the two options.
Jennifer Wilson 33:35
Melissa Camara Wilkins 33:36
Like I can't have Lego carpet every day. So yeah, just noticing those places that keep coming up. And it's like, wait, is the strategy I'm working on helping? Or do I need a different strategy?
Jennifer Wilson 33:46
For sure. So kind of wrapping up this part of the conversation with reference to kind of New Year's goals? If we're fast forwarding to the end of 2021, and thinking about our 2022 selves, do you have any particular advice you want us to carry forward?
Melissa Camara Wilkins 34:03
Yeah, I think it's just, what we've been talking about. About really examining, why are those our goals? Whatever it is, that seems really shiny at the end of this year for the beginning of next year? Making sure that that goal is our goal, and not somebody else's. That that seems really neat on the internet, or you know, somebody on Instagram is really doing that thing, and I should too. None of that. But what are the goals that really make sense for you? And why? And make sure you get back to that core need of like, Why? Why does that matter? Why does that matter? Why does that matter to me? Until I figure out what it really is and make sure that that goal is aligned for me before I ever get started. So that I'm moving forward with something that really does make sense rather than throwing all my energy into something that I picked up somewhere but isn't really mine. And then again, thinking about that, what's the process for this goal? Like, what's the first step? What do I do to actually keep going with it? Like, when is it gonna happen in my day? And how am I going to do it? And where are my kids going to be at that moment? And you know thinking through all those pieces so that there's, your goal has a fighting chance of actually happening.
Jennifer Wilson 35:05
Well, I'd like to kind of move more into that figuring out what makes sense so that you can have that experience that meets your needs day to day. And and as I was preparing for this, I was thinking about where I first discovered you. And it could have been when you started writing for No Sidebar, but it might have been before that. I know you, I was reading your writing for so long. And and I've always loved you have very like, straightforward. It's kind of a gentle but firm approach, always very practical, yet, you know, warm at the same time. And you wrote this post on your blog called "Three Ways To Stop Feeling Overwhelmed". And, you know, I went into that, I thought I knew what that title meant. But then your post included, we can choose to do things that help us feel how we want to feel more often. And we've mentioned this phrasing already, like feeling how you want to feel I know Danielle Laporte talks about this as well. And that's something that's always been so resonant to me. And I'm curious, what do you do regularly to choose to feel how you want to feel besides the Clementine tea?
Melissa Camara Wilkins 36:17
Thank you so much for all the kind words, by the way, that was just lovely. And so for me, often the way I'm wanting to feel this, this year, this season is grounded, right? Because that's not my natural tendency that is not where my my heart and mind want to go these days, on their own, they need a little bit of help to get there. And that's what I'd like to be feeling, is really grounded, really centered and able to make choices or be present for my family from that place. So that whole self check in is super duper helpful for that, because it lets me see when I'm not in that place.
Jennifer Wilson 36:54
Melissa Camara Wilkins 36:56
It makes me aware of like, okay, what what's going on with me? That is not where I want to be right now. Is it thoughts? Is it emotions? Is it something physical? You know, like, on what level do we need to make a change here to come more back into line with what we want to feel. And the other thing that's really helpful to me is I make an enough list every day. So this is just the list of the three things that'll be enough for today. If I get to those three things, that was enough. And honestly, in this season, it's really been like one thing, right? Like, what's the one big ticket thing that I want to get to today. And if I did that thing, I will go to bed feeling like I did enough, I showed up for the day today, no matter what else gets done, or doesn't get done, I got to that one super important thing to me. And that happened. And these are not necessarily big things, guys, this is like, you know, some days, it's like, I remembered to check in with each of my kids individually and make sure they were still, you know, breathing and eating and doing all right. Like it could be not enormous things. And whatever's most important to me in that moment. Doing that has been super helpful also with helping me feel how I want to feel. Because if I want to feel accomplished at the end of the day, then I know, these are the things if I do these three things, I'm gonna feel great. At the end of the day, it's like I got to that stuff. Or if I want to feel connected to my people, well, I know that my big ticket item has got to be something that makes me feel connected to them. Right? Or if I want to feel creative, well, at the end of the day when I'm writing down my list, okay, if I want to feel creative today, what do I need to do? So that I end the day feeling that like I was creative today. And I can add that stuff in in there. So having those, that way to check in throughout the day on how's my whole self doing mind, body, spirit. But then also, as I'm planning even just a little bit for each day, what's going to happen today, that gives me the the practice, the habit of making that choice on purpose for what is it I want to feel and what can I do that will make me feel that way today?
Jennifer Wilson 38:56
Mm hmm. I'm curious with your enough list if you had to, like was it uncomfortable or awkward in the beginning? Or did you feel like you weren't realistic? Or maybe you were too too realistic? Like have you had to kind of keep working at that to figure out what is, what is the right thing that will end up making me actually feel good at the end of the day?
Melissa Camara Wilkins 39:18
Yes. Oh my gosh, absolutely. So I started this practice, because I kept it, I would finish every single day feeling like I didn't do enough. Like I did not get to enough things today. There's always more to do. And there's always stuff and I just didn't didn't finish it all. Which was true, because you literally can't finish it all in a day. Like whatever your life is, you're not going to finish all of it today. I hope for you. There's more than two tomorrow. So I was just like, I'd run out of steam and fall into bed and I'd be laying there being like, well, I didn't get to that, I didn't get to this, I didn't finish that thing. There's still dishes in the sink. I didn't answer the emails. And I finally realized like, yeah, there's not enough time in the day to do all these things. There's more things than there are hours in the day. So we need to pick if we're gonna end the day feeling like I did what I needed to do today, like this was a day, it is complete, I can close the door on that day. I needed to define it in some way for myself, I needed to say, these are the things, this is enough, I'm going to do more than those things, honestly. Because like, I don't put stuff on there, like make the kids breakfast or make dinner or grocery shop or like all the little stuff that is going to happen no matter what. I don't have to put that on there. Because it's going to happen. Just the big stuff that I wouldn't get to on its own maybe or the stuff that's going to really matter to me most goes on there. So I'm going to get more things than that, but those are the big three. And if I get to those at the end of the day, I feel like yes, I did it. And, and that's great. So when I first started doing this, I was like, I will sit down, I make my list of three things. And then I wrote down and like, because I was in the habit of making these endless to do lists that I never got through. I couldn't immediately determine like, oh, these are the actual three most important things. It was like, well, everything's important, so I'll make this list. Write down like these, you know, 85 things. And that will be my little list. And so at the end of the day that the first time I did it was like, oh, look, I didn't do any of this. Okay, let's try again. And so I had to pare back and pare back and pare back until I could pick just those three things. And it felt, it felt really tough at the beginning. Like I was saying no to stuff, like well, that's not my most important thing. And I felt kind of guilty, like but everything's so important. Yes. But if everything's important, then nothing's really ever. Right, nothing really is. So it does, it does help to pick those few things. And over time, I have less guilt about that. And the great thing about it over time, is that I can look back over my, you know, the last week of what are the things I did everyday, this week, what were the choices that I made in this last week, or the last month or whatever. And if I know, the things that I think are really important to me big picture, right? Like my family is really, really important to me, and my creativity is important to me, and whatever the big things are, that are important to me, if if those are important to me, they should really be showing up over time on my list of these are the big three things for today. Right? They don't show everyday necessarily, like every single thing doesn't happen every day. But if I say, you know, having space for creative work is super important to me. And then I look back over the week or the last two weeks of what did I choose as my enough list for those days. And space and time for creative work isn't on there anywhere. Either I know I need to make some changes going forward about putting those things back onto my my actual to do list. Or I need to start telling myself a different story about what's really important to me. Because...
Jennifer Wilson 42:38
Melissa Camara Wilkins 42:39
You know, and sometimes that's the truth. Sometimes I have things that I'm like, Oh, this is so important to me. And then I realized, oh, wait, no, actually, that's not important to me, that doesn't make it on the list. And I'm okay with that. But other times, you know, it's something that really is important to me, and I need to figure out how I'm going to make space for it.
Jennifer Wilson 42:55
Well it just, as someone who's tried this practice and not really got into the groove yet. I guess I'm, I can echo with that the initial discomfort and you really have to keep practicing it so that it does get easier. And you start to be able to have that record and understanding and being able to one, make choices that are in alignment with your values. And then also I can see so much value in just having the written record so that you can reflect back, as you just described, to to seeing is this is this actually causing me to feel how I want to feel? Or is it not, as I'm checking these things off? Because you could put, you know, do laundry on there, and you did it. But is that fulfilling you? Are you still feeling a sense of lack because you're not prioritizing something else?
Melissa Camara Wilkins 43:45
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And you know, I don't know about you, but I tend to be really hard on myself and feel like, oh, I didn't get anything done this week, even though I was moving like 20 miles an hour.
Jennifer Wilson 43:53
Melissa Camara Wilkins 43:54
Oh, my limbs are moving all the time. But then I feel like I didn't get anything done. So I can look back at that list and say, well, you know what I actually did. You know, I got this done, and I got this done, I did this thing. Even if it's not done, or even if it's not, you know, something anybody else would care about or that was a big, you know, big ticket thing in the world everyone can see, it was important to me. And I got to those things that were important to me. To be able to look back at that and really have that evidence to show my inner critic when it comes up to me, you know what, actually, no, I did, I actually did the thing that mattered to me. And you know, right now I don't have as much energy as I might in another season. So I did fewer things, but I still did things. And that's been really helpful to me too.
Jennifer Wilson 44:34
Well and also just validation that you were intentional about making, you chose to do these things, you didn't, they just didn't happen to you. And you didn't do them as they just came up because there will always be things that just get thrown at us that we could choose to do but by pre determining what it is that it's important to you that makes, it gives you more autonomy and power over it.
Melissa Camara Wilkins 44:56
Jennifer Wilson 44:59
So how do you think we can make it easier to give ourselves permission for self-care. Because I can imagine that some of these things on your list some days, you might have self-care. And sometimes it's going to be something that's really more for your family or something that's like some big clutter thing that's, that's bothering you. Like for recently, I had, I'd put together this like corner, shower caddy, and then the box and all the extra pieces sat in the bathroom for like another week. And I'm like, I need to get rid of this. And that was my priority. I'm like, I need to finish cleaning the bathroom, put the things away, so that I can have the space and now enjoy my new corner caddy that's holding all my stuff. But sometimes it's hard to like, actually prioritize just the rest and the peace and the things that we need for ourselves, even if it's alongside the other priorities we have.
Melissa Camara Wilkins 45:55
Yeah. Okay. So first of all, that feels so good to get that box out of the house.
Jennifer Wilson 45:58
Melissa Camara Wilkins 45:58
Deesn't that feel great? Like, I got all the way to get into this project, and that stuff is gone. So good. I mean, I'm just later thinking about it for you. Anyway. Yeah, so I think a couple things. One is making that mindset shift of, it's not, I need to put everybody else first, and I don't need to put me before everybody else. And like, you know, who cares about them, it's neither of those things, right?
Jennifer Wilson 46:21
Melissa Camara Wilkins 46:21
We are deserving just as much as everybody else. We're all equally human. And we all have needs, and they all have to get met. And so just realizing that that's just true, that's just part of being human is just, you have needs that need to get met. And the thing is, if you don't meet your own needs, eventually somebody else is going to have to do it for you. Right, eventually, you're going to fall apart, and somebody else got to pick up the pieces. So it's kinder if you go ahead and take care of that all along the way. And it's a helpful thing for your, the people around you to see. For your kids or whoever else is around you to see, oh, this is a way that we can take care of ourselves as human beings. So knowing that, first of all, that it's okay that you're allowed to take care of yourself. In fact, somebody's got to do it, so it might as well be you. That helps me to, to kind of, you know, justify it in my head when that that inner voice is like isn't this selfish? No, no, it is not. Self-care is not selfish. Self-care is just part of being human. But then what actually makes it happen for me is building in those little routines of it. Where I know, you know, I'm always gonna check in with myself. Or I know, you know, when my reminder goes off, I'm going to go get a glass of water at that time. Or, after lunch, I'm going to take a walk with my kids, like, whatever are the things that really makes sense for you. Creating those little habits, self-care does not have to be a huge thing. This is not like, I need to go away for a weekend and sit by the roaring fire and drink hot chocolate. And it's going to be just me and my thoughts, my inspiration for you know, that would be so awesome. And maybe someday that will be a thing for all of us. But it doesn't have to be and like that's not my life right now. My life is there's a whole lot of people around all the time. So, so we're talking about little spaces, small things that feel to you like care. That you can look at and think oh, I feel cared for, when I have had enough water in the day, or I feel cared for when I made that cup of tea, before I needed it, or you know, whatever it is. And then you make a little tiny habit, use the reminders app on your phone, tie it to other stuff like after lunch, I always do this or after breakfast, I always do that or after I brush my teeth, I whatever, you know. Something we are doing, just toss it in there so that you are able to get to it without having to carve out a big piece that can be really, can feel really overwhelming.
Jennifer Wilson 48:37
I'm curious, I don't know about fake self-care, or the ways we trick ourselves into thinking that certain things are self-care when they're not. It doesn't mean they're not universally, but how can we decide for ourselves if something is like nourishing or draining?
Melissa Camara Wilkins 48:56
Yeah, well I think that's the question, right? is when you do that thing? How do you feel at the end of it? Does it feel life giving? Do you feel more alive, more connected to the people around you, more able to be present in your life? Or is it the opposite? You feel more drained? Do you feel more worn out? Or are you just the same at the end of the thing? Was that thing maybe just numbing so that you just didn't feel your feelings until you ended and then you stopped and you're right back in the same place as you were before? I think that's a really helpful thing to just look at how do you feel at the end of that thing? Or while doing that thing? And is that how you wanted it to make you feel at the end? Is that what you were going for? Because if not then you just make a different choice. You know, I there's a lot of things that are good but aren't exactly self-care, right? Like I think face mask is like one of those universal examples, I'm going to have a face mask. Well okay, a face mask is skincare, but it's not necessarily self-care, right. And my skin needs taken care of I'm going to do it. But I don't necessarily feel like oh, life has been poured back into me because there is lotion on my face. You know, so and somebody else might, but for me, it just doesn't, it doesn't do that for me. So, yeah, just being really aware of how do you actually personally feel as you do this thing. And as it ends, and really most self-care stuff is not, you don't need to buy anything to do that, right? This is mostly about checking in with yourself making space for yourself. Acknowledging that you are fully human, and you are allowed to have fully human needs and wants and feelings and desires. And making space for for those things as you can in your life.
Jennifer Wilson 50:35
Well and I think sometimes the best self-care steps you can take are decisions that could even feel difficult. Because you are letting go of something or saying no to something and it may not feel, the the actual action might feel uncomfortable. But how you feel after in reflection, got you one step closer to more alignment with your values and giving you this, the feeling that you'd really want.
Melissa Camara Wilkins 51:00
Yeah, absolutely. Boundaries are self-care, saying no is self-care. And we're so conditioned not to do those things. And for it to be super uncomfortable, but doesn't have to be, you are allowed, like you're allowed to have boundaries. You're allowed to have things that are okay for you and not okay for you. You're allowed to say that no one on the other side of it doesn't even notice, oh, hey, I do feel lighter, this does feel safer or more aligned or better.
Jennifer Wilson 51:30
For sure. So do you have any other advice for the many creatives who are listening to this show about seeking better self-care?
Melissa Camara Wilkins 51:40
Yeah, okay. So a couple things here. For me, as a creative person, and for other creative people that I know, you cannot show up to do your best creative work, if you aren't also taking care of yourself. Right, if you have not given yourself space to feel, if you have not given yourself space to be taken care of to have your physical needs met. If you aren't making that space for yourself to exist in the world, it's really, really hard to have creative energy that then you can let back out into the world. And so as a creative person, as a person who thinks that creative, creativity is part of what you bring into the world, and what you have to offer to other people, you are serving them best by taking care of yourself alongside of that. And I think you know, especially if you have things in your life, like for example, small kids, it can feel like well, the kids need this much stuff, X amount of my time and energy and attention. Now, the rest of it, I could either spend taking care of myself self-care stuff, or I could spend on creative stuff, but not both. And sometimes really, those limits are are real, like sometimes it's a real thing, that you only have this teeny little bit of time. And so in those cases, I say, see what you can do alongside of the kids stuff, right? So if the kids have needs how to take care of your needs alongside of theirs literally at the same time? Or how can you do some of the creative work alongside the other responsibilities that you have in life? Can you be keeping a journal next to you where you are writing down ideas that you'll come back to when you have actual, you know, quote, unquote, creative time? And can you just be thinking in the back of your head about what you're going to jump into next? When you do have that creative time? Can you set up your space so that it's ready to go when you have that time for being creative? I don't think that you have to pick between self-care or creativity. And I think that you're taking care of yourself really helps you to be a creative force in the world, in ways that are just really, really hard to do when you are depleted.
Jennifer Wilson 53:49
Oh 100%. And I think even some of those fundamentals we were talking about sleep and water and movement and nourishing foods. Like I don't, you don't think about those things as being a recipe for creative productivity or feeling inspired. But they're it's so connected and integrated. And when you're not, you don't have some of those basics in place. That could be one of the reasons why you're not feeling like you can connect with your hobby or your craft or your practice.
Melissa Camara Wilkins 54:20
Yeah, absolutely. And if those things aren't there and being taken care of like you get fatigued so much faster, you run out of energy, you run out of focus so much faster. All these things that you really do need to enjoy your creativity.
Jennifer Wilson 54:34
Yeah, and especially when that little bit of time you do have maybe is at the end of the day, if you're totally depleted. That's often when we we choose the maybe more of the numbing behaviors instead of the soul fulfilling ones.
Melissa Camara Wilkins 54:47
Jennifer Wilson 54:48
Well, so this has been so delightful. Can you share where we can find you online and anything you have new are coming up soon?
Melissa Camara Wilkins 54:55
Indeed. Okay, so we're talking about permission. I'm sorry that permission, personality quizzes earlier. And I actually have a permission personality quiz you guys can take if you would like to know what is your permission personality, at permissiongrantedbook.com, which is a place you can connect all my stuff. I'm also at melissacamerawilkins.com. But honestly, it's a little harder to spell. So if you go to permissiongrantedbook.com that will get you to all the stuff.
Jennifer Wilson 55:19
Melissa Camara Wilkins 55:21
Yeah, I'm on all the social media places which you can get to from there. You can find me on Instagram @alsomelissa.
Jennifer Wilson 55:26
Well, thank you so much, and to all of our listeners. Please remember that you have permission to Scrapbook Your Way. If you like the podcast, you'll love being a member. When you join, you'll get access to weekly Zoom crops, bi monthly retreats, and a huge content library. You can head over to simplescrapper.com/membership to learn more and join our creative community.
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