Become a Hot Mess in Three Easy Steps - Wisdom from Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau

Friends, I'm a certified hot mess. The genuine article- and not only because I have roughly the amount of children as Baskin-Robbins has flavors. There are other, general reasons. Reasons that you and I could well have in common.  Let's share.

BUT FIRST, would you believe that 19th century philosopher Henry David Thoreau saw it coming? He knew that I'd be a hot mess before General Custer knew he was surrounded.

And how did he know? Observe. As soon as plans were made to run a telegraph from Maine to Texas, his vigilant mind predicted the following: that maybe Maine and Texas have nothing important to communicate.


"We are eager to tunnel under the Atlantic and bring the old world some weeks nearer to the new; but perchance the first news that will leak through into the broad flapping American ear will be that Princess Adelaide has the whooping cough."

-Henry David Thoreau

I'm sure Princess Adelaide had her good points, and we wish her well, but Thoreau's meaning was that this news was not likely pertinent to the lives and work of its recipients. That perhaps life's most important truths would one day be "drowned in a sea of irrelevance (Neil Postman)".




That brings us to the first vital step to becoming a hot mess...




All of them! Let the buttons, badges, alerts, chimes, beacons and whistles resound in a frightful, untempered, unremitting torrent through your harried and agitated existence. This way, when you’re having a walk in the cool morning air, learning about your spouse’s day, or contemplating the next frontier of your career path…


PLONK! Steve commented “What a hottie!” on your photo


BUZZ! Lorraine reacted to your post ❤️



WOOT! Muggle35 started following you.


And that, friends, was when my sanity began to plot its daring escape.


Did you know Thoreau also said "Men have become the tools of their tools"? How eerily prophetic was that? Was his cabin on Walden Pond actually a TARDIS?


So how can we approach social media on the offense rather than the defense, and grab it by the horns instead of getting sucked into its gripping vortex?


Check this tip from

"Set a timer.

It’s fine to go on Facebook every once in a while. The problem comes when you get sucked into the rabbit hole and suddenly realize you’ve spent 2 hours stalking friends of friends of friends. Avoid this by setting a timer to remind you when it’s time to log off – 15 minutes is a good start. If you can’t follow the timer, get an app that will force you off like SelfControl."


Keeping these things in mind will assist us in our quest for focus. Get wise with me, dear readers. Please comment with your experiences around this issue.


Thoreau had yet more knowledge to dispense, which we are at liberty to disregard:


"...if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours."


The enemy to "advancing confidently" is our own discouraging thoughts. Thus we find the next maneuver in our aspirations to hot mess...ness:




This does not refer to your Aunt Becky, although in some cases that advice may still hold. "ANT" is an acronym for Automatic Negative Thoughts attributed to the eminent Dr. Daniel Amen.


Thoughts that pop up such as "I'll never make that happen," or  "I just don't have the talent," or "life sucks", are even more pestilential than an insect infestation. Listen and accept them, and you're on your way to hot mess...hood(?) just like me.


Will you join me in stepping on these ANTs?  If we can hone the aforementioned focus, we can get better at catching them instead of letting them crawl past, wreaking their havoc unobserved.


When you are lucky enough to catch one in the light, talk back to it:


"I'm capable! I got this!"


"I'm getting better at this all the time".


"I'm grateful for every chance to learn. I am blessed."


"I choose happiness and confidence."


Dear readers, I would love to hear about how you put down your personal ANT invasion.  Let's work on staying encouraged together.  


A final thought from Thoreau:

"The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."




In other words, keep floating passively downstream, procrastinating and failing to take action on what matters.

Gerda Audagnotti was inspired to arrange permanent homes for African orphans.

Willy the Plumber started a scholarship for the children of inmates.

Yesterday I almost gave my little ones a bath.

What are you up to?

I sincerely hope you'll join the conversation! As wisdom seekers, let's find focus, encouragement and action together!