Give No Fucks and Waste No Time

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This is really, really important and if you never read anything else here again, please let these two thoughts linger in your head for a minute before you move on to something urgent (!!) that needs your attention right now (!!): If something is important to you, don’t give a fuck what others think as you pursue it. Also, try not to waste time on stupid shit that doesn’t matter.

For the past four days, I’ve been cleaning and rearranging my office. I walked in one day last week and slipped on a spray of greetings cards I haphazardly threw on the floor the night before (like, I literally tossed a dozen cards into my office from the doorway because I was tired and cranky and pissed about something I can’t even remember now). I didn’t immediately bend down to pick them up so I wouldn’t slip on them again because I don’t like being reasonable, and also, I was busy assessing my office with fresh eyes. Sometimes, when we look at the same thing over and over again, no matter how beloved it is to us, we just become immune to its wonder and worth.

Unlike the rest of our home, my office is bursting with knick-knacks and sparkle and pink. Every surface is covered with found treasures, and for years, these objects made me feel rich and full and whole.

There have been periods in my life when I had nothing. When I was 18 and couch-surfing, I had to remember to wash my underwear every night because they were the only pair I had. During that time, I had to eat what was available to me because I didn’t have money or a job and it was hard to come across either because I was constantly on the move from couch to couch and city to city.

I like to come into my office just to touch all of my cool shit from time to time because it’s there and I bought it and it’s miiiiiiiiiiine. I have been known to buy two of the same sticker packs at my favorite craft store. That way, I can say, “Go ahead, Cal. Use that shimmery sun sticker. I got another one just like it.” If you’ve ever purchased a duplicate item just for the sake of owning it, you’ll understand how incredible my life is today.

The more I acquired, the better I felt about myself. When I started going down self-pitying roads like “I wish my father had wanted a daughter as much as I had wanted a father,” I would buy an assortment of multicolored grommets, and all the stars aligned. My world was perfect and good again.

Then I slipped on some greeting cards. I suddenly felt suffocated and my treasures seemed more like worthless junk. When I finally convinced myself that I didn’t need to keep all of my possessions in plain view to signify that I BELONG HERE, I purchased a dozen small moving boxes and started packing. Once those first twelve boxes filled up, I bought twelve more.

I walked to the bank between my first and second dozen boxes, and as I filled out a deposit slip (I ain’t about that ATM life), I overheard a man asking a teller if he could take one of the helium balloons on display. The teller then asked another teller who asked the supervisor (The ratio of employees to patrons at my bank is, like, 7 to 1. Also, they give you a bottle of water if you come in, and that’s why I don’t use the ATM, cuz….free water.)

Not that I would ever ask for a bank balloon in the first place, but if my request had to go up the chain of command, I most certainly would run the fuck out of there because that shit is kind of embarrassing and who the fuck asks for a bank balloon? Come on, bro.

But he stayed. And he waited. And the manager went into the kitchen to get him a balloon because the ones on display were part of a larger arrangement they were not allowed to touch. I know because I eavesdropped in rapt fascination. I finally looked up as the Bank Balloon Man thanked the manager, “My son loves balloons and this is going to make his day.” It was simultaneously the coolest and most weirdest, cheapskatiest shit I have ever seen in my life. It blew me away.

This Bank Balloon Man gave no fucks about what anyone thought. When life gives you a potential free balloon, you just gotta hold on and never let go I guess.

I thought about Bank Balloon Man as I packed the second set of boxes. I imagined what his son’s face might look upon receiving his gift. That was the beautiful image I had in my head as I peeled a handmade red envelope from between two books and coaxed the index card out. The ensemble was a gift from Cal many, many years ago, and this very perfect present had somehow gotten lost in the shuffle of so much shit that really meant nothing to me.

In Cal’s newly-learned cursive: What you need is closer than you think.

This process of packing and purging has forced me to reevaluate the clutter I keep in my life. Now that I’ve let go of so much, I do not feel empty and untethered. I feel free.

ccskate
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Welp, you’ve made it this far. Congrats on your amazing attention span and sorry about the excessive length today. This is probably not the right time to ask you to subscribe via Feedly or Bloglovin for more of this shit, but I give no fucks.

I’m not as longwinded on the Flourish in Progress Facebook page and on Instagram (username: flourishinprogress). Probably.

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  • laura @ hollywood housewife

    This is like…one of the best things I’ve read lately.

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      I know how much you read. I take this as a very big compliment.

    • http://shelaughsatthedays.net carrien-she laughs at the days

      Damn it! The Thailand internet ate another one of my comments before it posted. What I said last week was something like…

      I agree with Laura.

      I’m still an obsessive stockpiler, left over from a childhood devoid of excess. I start to feel pretty nervous when the pantry gets low. I buy two of something, because I can afford it right now, and you never know about later and then I have a back up supply. So I hear you on that.

      Also it makes me glad to think of you getting lighter and realizing you’re free and stuff like that.

  • Jon Nugent

    F’n legit! My boy has always made that shit for me and it’s more important that anything else I possess.. I carry some of it on deployment with me.. He’s 22 but it still makes me happy to look at it.

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      I wish all dads talked about their kids with this much pride. You’re awesome. Thank you for putting a smile on my face.

  • Shawna Willoughby

    I happen to like it when your blogs and/or posts are longwinded. You have a way with words and a unique but very real perspective on life. You are someone who has truly lived and it seems you are finding a way to reconcile a life before to the life you now have while using your writing to make sense of it all. It has been an interesting read over the last year or so when I stumbled upon your FB page and blog.

    That Cal is wise beyond her years. No doubt what we need is always closer than we think. Another great and motivating blog. Thank you.

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      WHEW. Thank you for that boost of confidence. My insides start to get churn-y when I see the words piling up and all I can think is igottacutitdownigottacutitdown. Cal teaches me all the things I should have known about life a long time ago.

  • nanu

    One of the best things that ever happened to me was my house burning down. Really makes you reassess what stuff is important!

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Wow. That’s a hardcore life changer! I am still so tethered to my stuff. I wish this weren’t the case.

  • http://www.toothbrushtravels.com/ Amy @ ToothbrushTravels

    You’re such a babe.
    Plus having the occasional purge frees up more room for stickers, so you know. Win win!

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      One can never have too many stickers. Well, that’s what I tell Harv a lot as I stuff the Michael’s receipt into the shredder.

  • http://fearlessfibrowarrior.blogspot.com FearlessFibro

    The more I read you, the more I realize we get the kids we need.

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      AMEN, SISTER.

  • Carla

    Wow. I seriously needed to hear this. I’m the kind of person that feels better when she buys something. I definitely need to “de-crap” my life and concentrate on what’s important.

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      I didn’t know there was any other kind of happiness other than retail happiness. I mean, that mom happiness is great too, but come on, new lip balm? That’s the best kind of happy. ;)

  • Sarah

    This is beautiful. Right now we are struggling. I am contemplating selling my engagement ring to pay for groceries for my kids. What is real is our love though, and damn if your post didn’t just remind me of that.

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      A ring signifies love but kids…they ARE love. But it’s not easy to part with something so treasured. Stay strong, homegirl. You got this.

  • Emily

    You’re writing is beyond. And also, this story was so real…it makes me happy to be alive and to witness those types of acts.

    I, too, would have ran like hell if my request for something so small would have gone up the chain of command. But he didn’t, and that’s commitment and love.

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      If I see him again, I’m going to ask him to get me a balloon too.

  • Caroline Alexander

    Thanks for this Elizabeth….I needed it.

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      *fist bump*

  • Misty

    Sounds like you are seeing through the fog and realizing that the important things in your life are standing right in front of you (or skating, as the case may be!). This was lovely and heartening. And I, too, buy double of my very favorite stickers. Solidarity, sister!

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Sometimes, I double the pleasure of buying double (that sounds weird) by saying “One for me and one for……me.” Try it. ;)

  • http://napkinhoarder.com/ Phyllis

    Best thing I’ve read… Worthy of reading again every day to just remind myself that you are so right on about this.

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      I’m not used to being right about anything so I take this as a big milestone. =)

  • http://www.mrstdj.com/ MrsTDJ

    Absolutely love this post. Finding a way to slice through the noise and give no fucks is so damn liberating. I’m new to your blog, but I’ll be following you in the future.

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Welcome! I’m sorry you got stuck reading my possibly longest post ever and thank you for sticking around.

      I grew so accustomed to the noise that the silence was strange at first…maybe even a little lonely. But I enjoy the peace now.

  • http://www.lifewithkaishon.com/ Rebeckah Leatherman

    I really loved this. Thank you for sharing. I am so glad you found the special card. Thank you for reminding me about what is important. Love, Becky from Life with Kaishon

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      *fist bump* Becky. Thank you so much for the kind words.

  • theblahblahblahger

    Why does Bank Balloon Man make me want to cry?

    LOVE!

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Do you want me to ask if he’ll get you a balloon too?

  • Karin Antal

    Beautiful.

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      <3

  • http://vi3tbabe.com/ Vi

    Oh I do love you and your stories. You have such a cute family! Sigh, I try really hard not to give a damn, but sometimes it’s tough. Esp after the week I’ve had (I wrote a really upsetting post about it on the blog). This year hasn’t been the best so far, but hoping things will turn around. I swear, I need to catch up on all your posts!

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      You’re so beautiful and strong and wise and hardcore. And when shit gets tough, it is most often the people who have that hard inner core who end up coming through the tough patches even better and stronger. You got this.

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Weirdness! Where did my reply go! I said:

      You’re so beautiful and strong and wise and hardcore. And when shit gets tough, it is most often the people who have that hard inner core who end up coming through the tough patches even better and stronger. You got this.

  • Melissa Burton

    The wisdom from the unexpected is sometimes better than what anyone can advise. I not only like the way you think but your perceptions (and translations) always get me to look at life differently…and that is very, very good. Thank you.

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      I’m so stubborn I usually don’t listen to advice when I see it coming. It needs to smack me in the head when I’m not looking. This is something I would like to change. I think it’s okay not to learn things the hard way ALL of the time. Well, at least that’s what I’m learning as I get older. =)

  • http://inpursuitofhappiness.net/blog Britt Reints

    I am so, so happy for you.

    I absolutely get needing outside validation that everything is OK when everything has NOT been OK for a very long time. That makes perfect sense.

    But getting to the point where you need that less because you know inside that everything is really OK… well that’s huge and rare and GOOD FOR YOU.

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Thank you. It’s not all day or every day or most days, but maybe I will work up to that.

  • alexandra

    I get so much from your writing and my internetwould be a very different experience without you in my inbox. thank you. And I get it. I’ ve been on my own since I was 17. Married at 35, and realizing still that I don’t have to buy it now because maybe the money won’t be there tomorrow. I hope to grow into not giving a fuck.

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      When I hear about other people who share this same mentality, it makes me feel less isolated. It’s so weird how the internet can do that. I’m so glad we crossed paths.

  • Stephanie

    I’m really glad I stayed w/ you all the way to the end of the post. Great one! Cal is wise beyond her years.

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Thank goodness she chose me to be her mother. I need all the help I can get.

  • shuggilippo

    Fucking perfect. ::throws all the noise out the muh-fuckin’ window::

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      I think it’s time for another date, yo.

      • shuggilippo

        I think you’re right. Shipping out to NOLA tomorrow but let’s calendar match early next week. :)

        • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

          OOoo…for Dad 2.0? Have so much fun and if you see my homie Brad Lawless, tell him I said “Sup, bro.”

          • shuggilippo

            Yup! I’m stoked. I’ll be real cool if I see Brad. Let him know I’m chill and whatever. Let’s just hope he doesn’t see me ‘after hours’ if you know what I’m sayin…

  • Cassie C

    I have never read your blog, but someone linked it to me, and I very much enjoyed this post.

    I’m disabled, by trifecta of shittacular issues (MFD, a rare genetic skeletal disease; Lupus; and RSD/CRPS, a rare, extreme neurological disease that causes horrific pain). The result of living with a total of 6 separate pain diseases (there are other, more minor issues) is that I’ve learned to tell people exactly where to shove their opinions. Countless people try to tell me I don’t need a wheelchair/crutches, that I shouldn’t take narcotics, that I need to be more self sufficient. I have learned to simply tell people it’s a miracle I function as well as I do (I can live alone, which is HUGE with these issues) and that none of it is their business. Then I turn, and wander off, the clink of my crutches echoing off the walls.

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      You’re straight gangsta. There’s a strength and peace that comes with knowing exactly what you need to live your best possible life. Maybe one day I will fully be able to follow your lead.

  • KathyW

    I can’t add anything to what the other commenters said about this article. Just know that of all the blogs I read, yours is the most meaningful and the dopest. :-)

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      OMG THE PRESSURE. I mean…..thank you. That’s a legit thrilling compliment to receive and I will try my best not to disappoint you.

  • Josh D

    I could read your ‘stuff’ all day kiddo. I grew up incredibly poor (well below the poverty line) and I remember having a realisation at one point as an adult with a part time job, thinking ‘Fuck it, I can buy all the CD’s and cool band t shirts I want now, cause I’m a fucking adult’… An amazing revelation. But like you, I’ve come to realise that the less I have, the freer I am to do whatever I want to do. xx

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Before I even touch on anything you said here, I just wanted you to know that the comment you left about the magnet I sent your way…it was one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me. Just thinking about your words boosted me for, like, a week. Thank you.

      What you said here really resonates with me. Especially today. I was carrying a tray full of ridiculous knick knacks across the living room and I just thought, “Shit, I have TOO MUCH. It’s weighing me down.” And then I just put that shit on the floor and ran away from home. I mean…I went about my day like a real adult. I will try to remember that the less I have, the freer I am to do whatever I want to do.

  • http://www.lifeafterbaseball.net/ Charity

    good read…just the motivation I needed to get bizzy cleaning out my closet.

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      It’ll totally be worth it. I always find good shit I forgot I even had when I take the time to wade through my closet messes.

  • mommyonthespot

    I am going to make a poster of your first paragraph as a daily reminder. You are wise, my friend.

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      And you are so very talented. Not to sound like your mother, but if I were, then you should listen to your mother when I say how proud I am of you.

  • Johanna

    There’s so much I relate to in this post. I love your honesty. And that you admit to all this. You put it so well…I don’t think I could articulate this the way you do but I can relate to acquiring more material things to mask other things going on in my life. I love it.

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Not that there’s anything wrong with material acquisition. ;) But I try to enjoy it as a sport and not as my therapy.