Mich Lundgren

A Place for Everything

In 2016, thousands of people downloaded planners I had designed. I couldn’t use the planners myself, I was only good at organized thinking in theory. In practice, I couldn’t maintain a simple intentional habit to save my life. How many planners, notebooks, systems have I purchased only to forget they exist within days?

I started really pushing into habit development around then, but it wasn’t until 2018 that I was able to implement and diligently maintain a daily practice. For a time – but then something would happen, a minor roadbump, a major depression – and the habit was abandoned. I’ve been struggling to reestablish habits since the beginning of the lockdowns, which threw me completely off course. I could manage for a few days, but overwhelm would set in.

In March I started taking meds for (previously undiagnosed) ADHD – the immediate effects were amazing, I started experiencing life in a brand new way, free of the fog, exhaustion, and pure chaos that was my constant. Then I adjusted to the meds, and those benefits started slowly slipping away. We upped the dose, and after the same outcome, we took a bigger leap up. In May, I started at 60mg, which is still lower than the Vyvanse ceiling, and still avoiding Adderall, which admittedly scares me a bit.

It’s been three months. Three months of calmly and blissfully putting things in order, cleaning up 36 years of disorganized existence. Almost every day I wake up smiling, ready to embrace whatever the day has for me. Some days are still gloomy or unmotivated, and those days are powerful – because I am still capable of functioning, still able to manage my thoughts and not spiral into anxiety, and able to remember clearly that it’s just a day, and tomorrow will be good again.

All of that was not really the point of this post – such a rambler.

One of the things I’ve been able to do is adjust my thinking about routines and organization – something I’ve been in a lifelong struggle to master. I realized that so much of what I’d tried to create in the past was built around the Pinterest-worthy systems of should. I wanted things to be pretty and perfect – but that’s not how I function, that is not who I am. I’ve instead begun to adapt systems to how I actually think and live. I will talk a lot about that here.

I’ve come down to the core concept of containers to manage systems, and it is being applied in all areas of life. Yes, it makes sense if we are talking about tangible (or digital) items – but this concept is also applied to the less tangible thoughts, habits, relationships. A place for everything, and everything in its place.

I think my favorite, and obvious, container solution I have implemented is an inbox & processing system for all things. For so long I would spend hours creating a perfectly organized system for something, and then when I was actually doing a task I would forget the system existed. I would create a file structure for saving documents, but when I was actually working I didn’t want to spend the extra 30 seconds finding where it went, and I was focused on the next thing – so it just went wherever it landed. There are some areas where I have built processing into the routine, no longer allowing myself to put it off – putting away laundry is the best example. But for most things, I’ve created spaces (inboxes) for things to be processed when I am in processing mode. Rocks collected, bookmarks, files downloaded, photos taken, items purchased. There is a place for everything, including the things out of place.

One thing I still need to develop a system for is how to manage my ideas, which I am more full of than ever. Part of all of the system creation I have been doing is also tackling the messes of the past – and with the ideas system, I plan on sorting through the piles of notebooks, multiple google doc accounts, and very likely even old messages with my best friend. Out of curiosity, I did a quick search of our Facebook messages – over 400 instances of “I have an idea” – how many were immediately forgotten or abandoned? Most.

As a person who loves to be spontaneous and live according to my whims, I believe deeply in systems. Having systems in place that support your lifestyle, and the simple functions that are involved with living, you have more time and freedom to do whatever the hell you want. For me, it’s not about rigidity, rather it allows for more stress-free adaptability. When I know everything is taken care of, it’s not a big deal if things don’t go according to plan. I know nothing will get out of control, and I have a roadmap back to order.

The sites that I am currently building (I am hoping to launch this week!) are another system, for the less tangible. For so long I thought of my website as a finished thing, that I just needed to build it and they would come. In reality, I never used my websites, I always hated them as soon as they were done, and nobody ever (not ever) found me through them, it’s not why they existed. They existed because I thought they should – you just should have a website if you are an entrepreneur. The ability to give a web address to someone, plug it into my profiles, was the only real benefit.

Now, however, I see them totally differently. I see them as freedom – I get to just create, to do the work I love, and I am building the containers (websites) and systems to help me organize and share that work, instead of letting it collect dust tucked away in a forgotten folder.

Everything feels so wildly different these days. I am so excited for all aspects of life.

Tawanda

I used to believe I was born with running shoes for feet, hands permanently waving goodbye. I thought I was a short term, flaky, incapable person. Everything fleeting, nothing sure. I simply didn’t believe I had the ability to sustain or maintain anything, and certainly not anything resembling a normal life.

Four years ago I decided to make that my ultimate truth. I had already effectively burned my life in Minnesota to the ground, so it was easy deciding to pack up my kids and my life to run off with a person who was more red flags than flesh.

A whirlwind year saw us cross the country three times, always chasing his next plan, never breathing. Then, with a slap across my child’s sweet cheek, it ended. I packed us into a rented car and set out to cross the country again, to start over in an unfamiliar tiny town, homeless and broke. But free and hopeful.

We were in the cheapest motel in town for a few weeks before I realized I was pregnant. I can’t even express the level of shame, self-loathing, and hopelessness that followed this realization. Beneath all that was a sense of the magic my daughter would bring, but it was hard not to feel like a huge fuckup.

After nearly two months in the motel, a tax refund came in and it was just enough to get us into a house, with an incredible landlord who had faith in me in a way nobody ever really has. I hit the ground running, alternating being sick, passing out, and offering 15 minute mini portrait sessions in my front yard to families in town. Slowly things started feeling a kind of normal. We were broke and isolated, but things were moving. 

On Christmas in 2015, I watched my kids opening dollar store presents from my mom, in our sparsely furnished living room, and something in me broke. I knew I couldn’t do portraits much longer, I could barely move. I started sifting through all of the things I knew how to do, anything that might help us stay afloat through the rest of my pregnancy. Any hope that I could do better for my kids. I settled on doing graphic design. I had done it for years for my own businesses, and as a hobby. I figured I could scrape together enough work to get by from home. It was never meant to change my life.

I had no idea what I was doing, but I kept moving forward and learning. Slowly I started finding myself through the work, learning that in this work I had a strong voice and could help people. Soon I was finding spiritual connections in my clients, and learning more about parts of myself that had been long abandoned. 

I can say with absolute confidence that in the second half of 2016 I was the picture of spiritual bypassing. I had all of the words, I preached the concepts, but I hadn’t deeply applied them in a meaningful way to myself, I hadn’t done the ugly work. In November of that year I announced I wanted to be done with poverty, and a crazy ass coach poofed into my life with a magic process to help me make miracle money. I followed the steps….and sure as fuck they worked. In a year and a half I went from homeless to making 12k in a month. Unfortunately, I hadn’t done any of the internal work to prepare for upleveling my life and the sudden shift proved to be traumatic. I sabotaged myself left and right, getting more overwhelmed and more sure of my incompetence, month after month. 

By July 2017, we were utterly broke again, living with family after I tried to leave the tiny town and failed. Shit started to hit the fan, predictably if you consider my energy at the time. I sank into a deep depression and stopped caring. The end of 2017 barely exists in my memory, mostly me staring into space, deeply terrified to the point of being numb. 

All this time I was trying to claw my way back to the feeling of creating a 12k month out of nowhere, trying to create some sense of spiritual connection and always through the scope of money. I obsessed over the idea that it was a fluke, a once in a lifetime moment. I was doomed to live in poverty and failure forever. What can I say, I am dramatic. However, at some point I gave up. It wasn’t a peaceful surrender, I just got so tired of fighting that I gave in to my fate. 

I spent a few months doing nothing but driving my friends nuts with my sadness. We moved to the middle of nowhere with my mom and I started walking the desert, collecting pretty rocks. I started waking up, marveling at the energy of these tiny bits of earth and history. I started breathing for the first time in years. I started quietly speaking with the universe (God, source, Tawanda) again and confronting my own wounds. I wasn’t just healing, I was evolving and I was receiving. I had been fighting so hard to receive money that I had failed to notice all of the other things that were available. Of course, as happens, when I started focusing on healing, money started arriving. 

In all of the wisdom and healing that has come this year, I have found something grounded. I have found a peace that I never believed I could have. Like I said in the beginning of this novel of a post, I believed I was born for running away. I loved this story about myself, the vagabond, the mystery that flits out of your life almost as quickly as I appeared. Now to find that I am ready to make something deeper in my life, to stop running, is equal parts scary and magical. 

I continue to learn about what it means to be me, proudly, unapologetically, in each moment. There is a lot of experimentation, testing experiences and ideas to see how they might feel. There is even more listening, though I am also learning that my voice is just as important as the listening parts. 

I am also learning how to help others. I see my clients struggling to force answers to the wrong questions, and I know I am just a few steps ahead and maybe I am supposed to be the one to help them forward. That scares me, and so I am still learning to wear that part of my identity – co-creator, guide, soulmate? I am patient with her, myself, my fear. I will keep speaking the truth that trickles in and trust the rest to fall into place. 

I have been spinning my wheels for a couple of weeks, things have not been filled with the ease I demanded and boy that irks me, makes me want to give up. I have to keep dragging myself back to faith, I have to keep reminding myself not to get so carried away by fear that I lose sight of what I am building. What I am building is huge, and beautiful, so of course it will take time and energy. 

So with another deep breath…onward, always. 

Awakening of the True Too Much

For the past few weeks (or 1,715 weeks, depending) I have been working to step more into myself. I’ve been letting (or unable to stop) little bits of truth find all of the cracks left from the sheer pressure of trying to be or do or say whatever it is that has been keeping me safe for the past 2, 32, 5, 20 years. 

And a scary thing has happened. People are misunderstanding me. People are rejecting me. People I care about. I keep skittering back into hiding, deleting posts, hiding what is real to keep safe all the parts I’m not sure can withstand …. Me. Accept me. Love me. Trust me. Hire me. Enjoy me.

It’s easy to say alienate all the people! Fuck what people think, you aren’t for everyone! It’s true. But what about when those people are your people, not your potential broad market, but your friends or family. What happens when keeping your truth tucked away has been a safety mechanism to maintain what is safe and familiar, and you’ve built a fucking life on this fault line, on this fallacy. You rumble and hint that something is coming, but the only way to shift is to warp the entire landscape of your life – and there will be casualties. People who count on the lie of you. 

Each time I rise and rise again, I watch another set of forevers slip away from me and am reminded that I am figment, a shit person who can’t maintain relationships or paths or my car. The rise is pushing against my edges and like a baby just about to crown, I am torn between desperately wanting the relief that will come when it breaks free, and absolute terror over the final push. 

I keep asking myself – what is different? How is this life different, better, than any other life I have lived in these 33ish years? And this is the answer: I am here for this. I am standing in this. I am not running. I might tuck myself away from moments, to collect myself, to gather my gumption, but I am not going to stop until anything that doesn’t feel true and good is shed, until all that is left is me, new and naked, looking at whoever else is here for this. And anyone who isn’t, I release, I forgive, I love anyway for our time together in a truth that used to be. 

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