michelle argyle

Too Many Cooks In Your Kitchen?

Too many cooks spoil the broth. It’s an age-old proverb, but it’s as true now as it has always been. The sad thing is that it has taken me all 37 years of my life to figure out how important it is to keep cooks out of my kitchen, so to speak. I can track a lot of my issues in writing, publishing, parenting, friendships, etc., back to too much input from others and not enough listening to myself. I’ve done a great job at learning to ignore my instincts and relying on other people telling me what they think I should do. 

So where does that leave me? This year I’ve made a conscious effort to get back to discovering me. What are my values? Not what everyone says I should value. No. What do value, and what choices will get me closest to those values? This is much more difficult to determine than I thought it would be, but once I truly made a commitment to figure it out, things have been falling into place. It’s pretty amazing.

It’s not that I don’t value other people’s experience and opinions. I do! And they are absolutely essential, but only to a certain extent. This is where the “too many cooks” idea comes into play. I’m learning how to cull my circle of influence, and it’s not easy. Social media makes it especially difficult. I’m sure you can see why. So many voices, ideas, opinions, ads all the time. I think this is why some people find themselves a lot happier when they decide to cut down on social media. Less cooks.

As far as writing goes, I’m in a much happier place lately as I’ve made some tough decisions on who sees my work before it’s published, who I want feedback from, and when I want and need it. I’ve already noticed a big difference in how quickly I’m writing and how many ideas I’m allowing myself to entertain because I don’t feel as much pressure to second-guess those ideas.

So here’s my question. How many cooks do you let in your kitchen? Have you had experiences that slowed you down or steered you in the wrong direction because you were trying to listen to, and please, everyone at the same time?

 

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in About Me, All Things Publishing, Working With Other Writers, Writing Process, 12 comments

Why Don’t I Care About You More?

Guys, I don’t know what has happened, but it seems like there has been a huge shift in my life — and not only my life, but a lot of people around me, as well. In a nutshell, it seems like so many of us have become too busy to care anymore. Care about what, you might ask? I almost don’t know how to explain it. Each other, maybe? But that doesn’t sound quite right to me.

Here’s the thing. A few years ago, I used to consistently read over 150+ blogs. I’d read dozens of posts a day. I’d even COMMENT on 80 – 90% of them. I can’t fathom how much time I invested in that activity. And even crazier was that I felt like I knew so many of those bloggers — to the point I felt we could easily be friends if we ever met. Some of them I did meet, and we are still friends. Now, however, with my horrible memory as it is, I can’t even remember most of those people whose blogs I used to read so intently. And it makes me sad. I would start reading blogs again to try to fix this, but I can hardly find the time to read close friends’ blogs anymore, let alone comment anywhere. It seems like many of us aren’t actively blogging anymore, anyway. Aside from that, how did I have time back then and not now? I was not any busier. Truly, I wasn’t. I’ve shifted priorities, I guess. It’s the only answer. I devote more time to exercise, helping my daughter with her large amounts of homework, working a job outside of the house, keeping my marriage healthy and happy, etc.

But it’s not just me … I think. For instance, a friend — a close friend might announce his/her new book deal, and it seems like I don’t get as excited as I used to about such news. And others don’t seem to, either. I mean, I CARE. Of course I care! I think I even care more deeply than I used to. So maybe all of this is just a quiet approach now? But it seems like the excitement level all the way around has taken a huge dip, with everyone. Or am I seeing things that aren’t really there? And it’s not just book deals and happy news. I’ll hear about horrible things happening in the world and it’s like I just don’t have the energy to get worked up about it. I want to, but my energy is being funneled into so many personal things like family and simply surviving (financially, emotionally, physically) that by the time I hear news outside of those things, I have nothing left to give. I’ll meet someone amazing and think, “I need to make sure this person stays in my life — I should devote a lot of time to building and maintaining a friendship with them” only to end up not making much of an effort because I realize I’m hardly maintaining the friendships I already have.

I feel like I’ve simplified my life in the past few years, but at the same time I’m wondering if I have simplified too much? Am I not caring about the things and people I should be caring about, or is this what happens as you get older and everyone around you only has so much time to devote to people outside of their immediate families? I mean, I’m in that stage, you know? Where most everyone in my “circle” is married with multiple children who will be tweens and teens and/or graduating high school in under a decade. That’s an intense part of life that requires a lot of focus. So maybe that’s just how things are. Or maybe I’m turning into someone I don’t want to be — which is odd because, in general, I’m happier than I have been in a very long time. I honestly don’t know at this point. Sigh. Mid-thirties crisis over here.

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in About Me, 21 comments