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On Margin & Real Life

On Margin & Real Life by Paper & Glam

It's been a long time since I wrote about how I'm learning to live well. Those of you who are long-time Glam Fam will remember that in the beginning, when I had little to no margin to indulge my love of paper, we chatted about living well here regularly. 

This morning I woke up at 5 AM craving candles, books, coffee, and reflection, so let's rock it old school and talk about life, shall we? 

Last week I got a note from Elise, a long time member of the Paper & Glam community asking, "Would you talk in either a future vlog or blog post about your steps to create margin this year (what has or has not worked for you). I would love to hear if you have found anything that helped!"

At the outset of the year, I talked about my word for 2016: MARGIN. In my How To Set Goals & Reach Them video, I made a resolution for every area of my life, but the one that sits paramount above them all is my resolve to create more margin.

What is margin?

Margin refers to the space on the edge of a page where there is no text.

Dr. Richard Swenson, wrote an excellent book on margin called Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives as well as a devotional. He defines a marginless life as, “Marginless living is being 30 minutes late to the doctor's office because you were 20 minutes late to the hairdresser because you were 10 minutes late dropping the children off at school because the car ran out of gas two blocks from the gas station — and you forgot your purse. Marginless is not having time to finish the book you're reading on stress: margin is having time to read it twice." 

In my own words, a marginless life is a life without white space for leisure, rest, play, family, fitness, creating and hearing from God.

A prime example is how often I'm told someone wants to join our book club, but doesn't have the time or discipline to read. No one has the time or disciple to read (or insert your goal here), we either plan and execute something in our lives or not. And remember, there will not be more time in the future, don't take that bait.

This year, I'm planning and executing margin. Running late, overwhelm, and exhaustion are no longer permissible in my life. At times, exhaustion and the clock get the best of all of us, but those times will be the exception, not the rule. Those states of being don't allow me to soak in the blood and bones of my life. When I'm tired, late, and overwhelmed, I miss the moment entirely. 

How am I creating margin?

What I've done this year to create margin is simply do less, and expect less of myself. I know, super anti-climactic when you wanted my secret for doing it all, and then more, but hang with me.
First, let's tackle expecting less. Managing the expectations we set for ourselves is half the battle. In my ideal world, I maintain a sparkling clean, seasonal home, well-tended abs from 5 AM workouts, a thriving business featuring wholly original art, a thought-provoking blog, and a lifestyle YouTube channel dedicated to all things Paper & Glam. In addition, I make space for time with family and close friends as well as a deeply-rooted community here in Los Angeles. Plus, I'd cross a book a week off my to-read list (well-read goals!), my scrapbooks and planners would be beautifully styled and current, because memory keeping is enjoying life a second time, in reverse...all while crushing it in the Fortune 500 IT world.
The math of my expectations versus my time will never add up.
If I'm honest with you, those are the unattainable expectations I lived by for all of my 20s. Not surprisingly, I grew tired of coming up short. It was never about doing it all or earning love, approval, significance, or anything you'd hear in a counselor's office (and trust me, I did my time in that chair). Some of us are innately wired with a Type Awesome Operating System. We want it all, from life and from ourselves. In my 30s, I'm laying down all that and taking up God's highest and best for my life; nothing more, nothing less.
In The Good & Beautiful God (a perennial favorite), James Bryan Smith writes, "When we lack margin, it is our own doing and is a sure sign we have stepped outside the kingdom [of God]. So be honest and be ruthless with your schedule. Your spiritual, relational, and physical health depend on it. [At the core] holiness is essentially wholeness -- a life that works. Sin is dysfunction or sickness. Margin restores balance and restores our soul, thus increasing our capacity for joy. Joy is a bulwark against temptation." 
As Dallas Willard infamously said, "Ruthlessly eliminate hurry."
Do you find yourself overeating, undersleeping, overspending, or all of the above, and generally feeling like you're missing out? When I find myself doing the same, margin always comes up lacking.
How does margin look in my life?
Margin looks like doing the needful to pay my bills and service my customers, and creating content (vlogs, blogs, etc.) as a hobby within the time I've set aside for it. Then living IRL (in real life, not online) the rest of the time. This means I pass on opportunities left and right to build my business and my brand, and I'm missing in action here on the blog and on YouTube more often than not these days.
Is this ideal? Not at all, and I miss connecting with you when I'm not here, but that’s a better option than missing my real life. I’ve done enough of that in my 20s. In my 30s, I’m committed to cultivating balance: less work, more love. The 20s are the time of becoming - put your head down and get there, professionally, financially, physically, and spiritually. For a great book on this topic, I cannot recommend The Defining Decade highly enough. 
In my 30s, I’m taking my foot off the gas and investing in my community here in Los Angeles and the rest of my life that exists outside of my career and the internet. Now hear me right, this does not mean that vlogs and blogs will always be infrequent or I no longer intend to create content for Paper & Glam regularly, etc. It means that when other priorities arise or opportunities to invest in my real life in LA arise, I let the internet things go as opposed to giving up sleep or sanity, or producing something that doesn't reflect authentic work.
This year the God & Glam community is reading Savor together and as usual, Shauna's words resonate deeply:

I know plenty of people who give the very best of themselves to what they’re putting on the internet, and their church, their friends, and their family gets the scraps. I know that there is never enough time, never enough energy, never enough of everything to go around.

There’s only one way I’m going to make the math work in my life: IRL (In Real Life) above all else. If I can’t be present and available every second to the great and powerful vortex that is the internet, that’s going to have to be okay. You can trust that I’m [curled up with Sunday, a new book and a steaming mug or traipsing down an LA street with my mom or my cousins.] I’m with my family and my friends, people who know me well and keep my sane. When things get crazy, I’ve learned to dig even more deeply into IRL.

The best of me is not in my videos and not on my blog. My first priority is, and will always be, IRL.

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing…no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. — 1 Corinthians 13:1,3, MSG

How are you creating more margin in your life or struggling to do so? I'd love to continue this dialogue in the comments. 

Here's to taking life at our own pace, with peace, purpose, and joy.

With much love and gratitude for all the time you spend with me,