ponderings

Patterns of Rest-lessness

rest

I’ve been out of things for a while, running hard on a couple of large projects, including possibly moving myself and my family halfway around the world.

 

And in the meantime, I’ve let a lot of things slide.

 

Fiction writing, posting here, keeping up with communities.

 

And above all, taking care of myself. Rest, replenishment, exercise.

 

The worst thing is I know better.  And I remind myself constantly that I need to stretch, go to be earlier, take a nap, have some down time.

 

But then I look at the rest of the list, and think “just a few more things. I can do just a little more. I need to do a little more.”

 

So I do a little more. And a little more after that.

 

And in the end, I don’t rest.

 

Sure, I may have braindead time with a game or a book or an episode of Doctor Who… but seldom am I  mindfully stopping, taking time in the midst of the busyness to do the things that will make me happier and healthier.

Looking back through my notes, this is a pattern that comes up, over and over again.

 

And I’ll bet any number of other folks have this pattern, too.

 

For the next little bit I’m going to be noodling on my patterns about rest.

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on rest as well – come on over to the facebook group and join the discussion!

Trusting in my own genius

There is a set of activities that I’m flat out brilliant at. I enjoy doing them

There is another set of activities I love doing. Truly love doing.

Both these sets involve being creative. Painting, writing, or creative problem solving. Working with someone else to find a crazy solution to something that has been driving them crazy is almost as much fun for me as playing with paints.

There’s an entirely different set of activities that I’m good at… but don’t make my heart sing in the slightest. However, many of those activities have been a stable source of income for me for years.

Sarah Goshman wrote recently about finding a new path for herself, and reading the book The Big Leap, by Gay Hendricks. Something she said jumped off the screen and just shook me.

 “The concept that each of us has 3 zones: a zone of competence, a zone of excellence, and a zone of genius.

And the only way to step into your zone of genius is to stop doing the things that fall in the other two zones.”

And I keep thinking… what would happen if I only did the things that I love doing? Not just the things that I’m good at, that I do just because they pay the bills… but only what I love doing?

The thought is pretty terrifying, actually.

Right now, I don’t trust that I’ll be able to support myself doing what I love.

Hate to say it, but it’s true.

However, I’m going to bring out the creative problem solving hat.

How could I get from where I am today, right now, to a place that I would trust that I could support myself?

I’m not entirely sure, but the first step should be more data.  I don’t have to change anything this month. But just take field notes throughout the day.

How much of my day do I spend working on my dream – either making it real, or doing my dream activities?

How much of my day do I spend on other activities, and how does that make me feel? What’s one tiny step I could take that would move me out of “just-good” projects?

I don’t have to take that step – not right now, not until I feel more secure about it. Right now, I just want to notice what some steps might be.

I have a tiny voice in my head whispering that it’s possible, just possible, that there’s more time for my dream life than I think. And maybe there’s more ways to detangle from non-dream activities than I’ve realized.

And I guess I’ll find out by the end of the month!

What’s your zone of genius?  Come join us on the Facebook page and share!

 

(I’ve moved comments over to the facebook page so that we’ve got a unified discussion going on, and more people to play with!)

Gentleness and Kindness to Ourselves

gentleness-kindnessSeems obvious, right? But somehow we’ve gotten into a position where it seems like just resting when we’re tired, rather than pushing through to exhaustion is some sort of subversive manifesto.

I am all about getting things done. Getting lots of things done.

But I’m tired of being tired. I’m tired of almost every woman I know being exhausted and depleted.

We seem to be living in a near-constant state of collapse, where one just more thing added to our plate is cause for depression and overwhelm.

I do it too. I know I need to spend less time working, less time online. But if the little things add up, they sit there on my list, pressing at the corners of my mind.

And it doesn’t take an actual catastrophe for it all to be too much.  One email too many, one bit of software that doesn’t work right, one bad night’s sleep. And then the overwhelm rises up again.

When that happens, I know to pull out my toolbox of ways to deal with the overwhelm. Here’s a few of my favorites:

1. Make a shorter list.  I know, the big list is still there. But sometimes the sheer size of it adds to the overwhelm. Pull three things off, and only focus on them. Pick those three things either because they’re the actually important ones or because they’re going to take the least amount of time, or they all start with the letter P. Whatever calls you.

2. Put on music. Some days I can work with Florence + the Machine blaring. Some days I need Bach. But almost every day having music to keep me moving helps. And if the music is too distracting, get up and dance. Shake it out.

3. Move a little. I’m beginning to suspect that overwhelm is partially the result of living too much in our heads and not honoring our bodies’ needs. When we’re not used to listening to what we need – rest, water, stretching – it’s easier to keep piling on the tasks. Start the habit of paying attention to that quiet voice, and I’ll bet it gets louder.

4. Spend time with your community. I don’t mean zone out on facebook or twitter. But setting the timer for a short period and spend that time mindfully interacting with people, or write an email asking a few close friends for support, or just a virtual hug for the hard day.  You might be surprised how many of them need a hug back.

5. Rest, even for just ten minutes. I know this one is super hard when your task list for the day is two pages long. You feel like the only way to survive is to put your head down and push through. But you can give yourself ten minutes.

6. Keep track of what you’ve done. A crazy trap in the world of overwhelm is thinking that there are so many things, that you’ll never get anything accomplished. Being able to look at a list of everything you have achieved through the day can be great talisman to ward off the gloom.

What do you do when you’re feeling overwhelmed?  Come join us on the Facebook page and share!

 

(I’ve moved comments over to the facebook page so that we’ve got a unified discussion going on, and more people to play with!)

Purposeful Productivity

What do I mean by purposeful productivity?

We spend a whole lot of our lives getting things done, kicking it out, working the list.

But never checking in to make sure it’s the right list.

There’s an old, old story that illustrates the point. (How do I know it’s old? I’m pretty sure I heard it from my father… and that makes it ancient.)

The story goes on about a man who worked hard through all sorts of obstacles to climb a ladder, only to get to the top and realize he’d leaned the ladder against the wrong wall.

 Sound familiar? 

If we don’t take the time to check where the ladder is, we’re working hard, doing all the right things, but we’re not going to get the results we want.

 Purposeful. There’s not much point in getting things done, unless we’re getting the right things done.

How do we figure out what the right things are?

It takes time.

Last thing you wanted to hear, right?

I’d bet that your first thought is something along the lines of “Crazy lady. There’s no way to fit one more thing into the schedule.” Possibly with a little tight laugh thrown in, and a gulp of coffee.

If you’re like me, you’ve just glanced over to your list for the day, for the week, and flinched a little at the very idea of adding one more thing to it.

Hear me out.

What do you want to do? Do you even know?  When was the last time you gave yourself the gift of quiet time to think, to make sure that your goals are still congruent?

When was the last time you had a chance to just sit and be still with yourself?

It’s a hard thing to do, to realize that we need time, quiet time. Not to review the list, or notes for the next meeting, but five minutes without a screen or our phones. A blank piece of paper, and just time to think.

Not for long, just long enough to answer three questions. Probably five minutes, maybe less.

And I promise, if you can give yourself those five minutes every day, you’ll be much more certain the ladder is up on the right wall.

  •  What are my goals?
  •  Are those goals still resonant with my heart, or has anything shifted?
  •  What am I doing today that brings me closer to my goals?

Just one thing, even one tiny thing to bring you closer to your goals every day can make all the difference in the world.

Even if you were going to do it anyway, being mindful of what you’re doing and why can bring a huge shift to how you relate to your task list. You’ll know that you’re not just getting things done, but you’re taking steps towards your dreams!

 So – what are your goals? And what are you doing today that brings you closer to them?

 

P.S.    Next Saturday will be the last class on Supporting Your Goals for a while. Do you have a project that you’re stuck on, or a goal you’d like to achieve? Give yourself some support! http://www.themissingpiece.com/classes/

Messages

What messages are you putting out into the universe? What messages are you telling yourself?

I don’t really have many thoughts one way or the other on attraction, or manifestation – this isn’t about that.

This is about what messages we’re telling ourselves and other people by how we live our lives.

Right now, I’m going through years of tangled websites, files and emails to old projects, or old projects that have morphed into new ones.

It’s a terrible combination of registering a new domain name every time I have a new idea, and using the same domain for multiple projects over the years (themissingpiece.com was originally for selling handsewn accessories for historical reenactors, then a web site maintenance service) compounded by the fact that some sites are fifteen years old.

I’m sending so many mixed signals, it’s a wonder that the people who are looking for me now are finding me. I’m still getting contacts from people who are looking for the past-me who did that other sort of work.

Some of that I can’t do anything about. Things live forever on the internet.

But quite a lot of it I can do something about. I can trace down old projects, make sure that emails are ending up in the right places.

It’s not just the image I’m presenting to the world, but the story I’m telling myself. Who am I? What do I do? What are my passions?

If I’m giving myself mixed signals, no wonder I struggle sometimes for clarity.

If I’m working on one project, but surrounded by the ghosts of old projects, is it any wonder that sometimes I’m unsure about what the next step is?

Having the clarity to know, really deep in my bones know, what I’m doing (at least at this moment) makes everything easier.

It takes less energy if I’m clear what my current project is. Less energy to do it, less energy to make decisions.  I’m less likely to get sidetracked by something only to realize days or weeks later that I’m following an old dream.

What messages are you sending out? And are they the ones you mean to be sending?

 

 

Searching for Clues about the Project-of-Doom

There’s a project that I’ve been stuck on. Really stuck on.

I meant to have it done… six months ago. Even though the project itself isn’t particularly big or hard or complicated, it’s become a project-of-doom.

Yes, other things came up, and all the delays are very understandable, but it hasn’t gotten done, and the project just squats on my list.

Things on my list that don’t get done bother me. They’re broken promises, sometimes to other people, but always to myself.

If there’s something that’s been on my list forever, I’ve discovered that I often need to sit with it for a while. Find out what the issue is.

Today, with the project-of-doom once again staring me in the face, it seemed like a good idea to investigate.

And since chances are good you might have a project-of-doom on your own list, I thought I’d share my process.

Question 1: Is this my project?

Sometimes I realize that I haven’t worked on a project-of-doom because it’s not really mine to do. I might be waiting for information from someone in order to proceed or for someone else to do the next step. In that case, the project is mine, but the next step isn’t.

Sometimes it’s really not my project at all, but something I want to happen so much that I’ve gotten tangled up in another person’s process. Invested my energy into something I don’t have any control over.

Answer: This project doesn’t feel like it’s in either of those categories. It’s true, I had been waiting to hear back from other people about their participation, and although that waiting may have added a little drag to the momentum, I’m long past that point.

Question 2: Was this my project once, but it isn’t any more?

Maybe my heart isn’t in it anymore. Maybe it was part of a plan or a dream that was important, but my priorities have changed. Maybe it was a wild whim, and after a cooling-off period, I can see it’s not a plan I want to pursue.

That happens and it doesn’t mean I’m fickle, or a bad person. Priorities change all the time.

Answer: After a lot of journaling, I’ve decided this project is still mine, and still works with my general plan. I’m not super excited about it right now, but that seems to be due to the lack of movement on it. When I read the actual project notes, I’m reminded of how much fun it could be!

Question 3: Does something else need to happen before I can start?

Sometimes I realize I can’t do a project-of-doom because it’s actually phase three of something else, and once I get phase one and two done, phase three falls into place.

Answer: And here’s where the lights turn on today. I couldn’t do this project before because in the back of my mind I was still working on getting some clarity about the larger plan. I’ve been making great strides with understanding how all the pieces fit together and with that in place, this feels much more doable.

Now that I can identify where the stuckness is, I feel like I can make a plan to address those issues, and get this project off the doom list!

As always, what works for me may not work for you – if you have a different way of tackling stuck projects, I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

 

Just a Little Gentleness

Unexpectedly, this year looks like it is centering on thoughts of comfort and ease. Around gentleness and softness.

Through my life, I have not been particularly gentle. Not with other people, and certainly not with myself.

I have a history of being tough. A reputation I’ve earned the hard way, and been proud of. I can push through almost anything, get things done, keep my chin up.

And then have a quiet (or not so quiet) meltdown when the list has been completed, when the crisis is over.

Except… the list is never completed, and there’s always a new crisis.

And if I can only relax when I’ve done some magical number of things, I’ll never relax. Never unwind.

A lot of people I know are the same way. Too many things to do. Too much exhaustion.

And while I agree that things do need to get done, I’m falling out of love with the idea of being tough. Of being hard.

 Softness isn’t prized. We talk about being “too soft” on crime, or children, or ourselves.

Culturally, we’re taught that work comes first. That being tough is a good thing.

We celebrate a work ethic that keeps us running.  We call people that don’t share the same work ethic lazy, or slackers.

And still – almost everyone I know is tired all the time. Exhausted. Depleted.

When we’re working from a state of depletion, we can’t do our best work. So that’s one reason to be a little gentler.  But that’s still putting the work first.

 What if we put ourselves, our health and our happiness first?

If something took two days to do instead of one, how much impact would it truly make in the end?

When I was learning to drive, my mom had me do the math to figure out how much faster I would arrive someplace if I was speeding.  In my teenage head, it seemed like if I was late, if I was in a hurry, surely it made sense to go just a little faster, push that needle just a little further.

But if the difference in arrival time is only five minutes – is it worth the risk of a ticket or a crash? (Not that I never drove too fast, but I could understand the concept.)

 

 So why is it such a hard concept for me to apply to work and lists and the endless tasks?

If my todo list has thirty things on it, and only five of those things HAVE to be done today, is it going to make a huge difference if I only get 10 other things done? Will I notice it next week, or next year?

Chances are good that getting 10 extra things done from my list won’t make any real difference to my life, or anyone else’s, for that matter.

I suspect if I take that time and rest, do something else that nourishes my heart, or just sit outside or walk the dogs or nap, I think I can make a dent in the depletion deficit.

But I don’t really know, because I’ve never tried.

 This year seems like a good time to start.

 What do you think? How do you balance getting things done with gentleness towards yourself?

enough

Small Adjustments Towards Alignment

It all started with a table lamp.

I’ve had a tiffany-style table lamp for years and years, and I love the soft light it adds to the room. Not exactly enough to read by, I’ll grant, but the colors of the shade make up for that.

About… let’s say six months ago, because longer is embarrassing, it started to flicker whenever one of the cats went by. I promptly unplugged it, but that’s about all I did promptly.

“I need to find a shop to take a look at that” wandered through my mind every time I saw the lamp.  In the evenings I’d make a note of it again, and turn on another lamp, and forget.

The turning point came, oddly enough, not with the lamp itself, but with a clock. While we were out one day, our cats had a fine time playing and knocked over an old clock. There’s a large spiral of metal that I’m pretty sure is supposed to go somewhere inside… but I have no idea where.

The clock is by my desk. I glance at it probably thirty times a day

. And two things being so obviously out of joint was too much.

Once I made it a priority, within an hour I’d found places to repair both the clock and the lamp.  And once the ball was rolling, we started looking at some other things around the house.

HolmesSm

One of the fuzzy suspects in the clock incident.

Sean figured a clever solution to a hanging extension cord that had bothered us for AGES, and now is perfectly fixed. I have a possibly better place to put some art supplies.

Nothing is one-hundred percent tidy, and the house certainly isn’t ready for any sort of surprise visit by a white gloved inspector, but things feel a little smoother.

And I realized it’s about alignment, congruence.

We want our house to be a refuge from the outside world, our safe haven. And when we can make little changes to bring it closer to the vision we have for it, everything feels better, more comfortable.

That works with things outside of the house, too.

I’ve been thinking for a while about the tangle of websites I have – some old projects that are no more, some current projects that are on hold, some that are terribly active. And it’s all just a mess.

Redoing the sites, figuring out what should really go where, and how each site could be best used has been on my list, but wasn’t a priority. And I was sure it was going to take FOREVER.

Until I realized that this is also about congruence. Making it clear to the outside world, and myself, who I am and what I do. Bringing what I say I’m doing, and how I’m presenting that, into alignment with what my vision is for my life.

That bit of clarity made it more of a priority to get things untangled, to clear and reshape the paths that people can use to find me.  And again, once I got started, it didn’t take forever. Four days of very off and on work has gotten quite a lot of progress done. There’s still more tweaking, more rewriting, but what felt like a dark tangle of chaos now has an order to it.

Looking around now for more small adjustments I can make to add more congruence between my life and my vision!

 What changes can you make in your life that would bring you into greater alignment? Let me know in the comments below!

(Don’t forget the last Realizing Your Goals class for January is coming up this Saturday! Click here for more information and to register.)

Duck Wrangler Extraordinaire

I’m spending a section of this morning corralling ducks.

Thankfully, not real ducks. (I’d worry too much about the malamute being near them. She’s already had an unfortunate poultry incident.)

A friend has a saying I love: “nibbled to death by ducks.”

It’s the small things that add up, wear you down. It can seem like they form a wall of tiny pieces standing between you and your goals, and it feels like you can’t ever get hold of the right end of where to start getting them out of the way.

They may or not be actually important, but they have to get done.  I’ve learned from painful experience that untended ducks can wreak chaos – missed due dates, lost papers, neglected follow up calls.

Duckzillas cause chaos. They can’t help it, it’s just their nature.

Duckzillas cause chaos. They can’t help it, it’s just their nature.

Duckzillas take far more time and energy to deal with. So I’m playing with new ways of duck management.

Too often I don’t write them down, because they’re not really a task or a project…. But then they press on me, nibbling at the corners of my brain space.

So I’ve been writing down the ducks. Corralling them. And amazingly enough, once they’re all in a list, not fluttering around, I can tell there’s not nearly as many of them as I thought.

How are you doing with today’s duck wrangling?

 A short one today, as I’m getting ready for this Friday’s class on Realizing Your Goals. There’s still time to join us and get support for making your goals and dreams come true!

Opening Doors

What Doors Will You Open Today

 

I fully believe that there are doors all around us, waiting for us to open them.

Sometimes we don’t see them.

Sometimes we’re caught up in banging on a locked door, that we don’t see the other options.

Sometimes we’re just too tired to look around and notice.

But there are always doors.

We talk about a lot of things here…

Being gentle with ourselves, and the importance of small adjustments towards alignment.

Experiments in happiness and what does adventure mean, anyway?

What can happen when you say "Yes" and what might be waiting outside your front door.

And of course, why pretending to be a pterodactyl is good business.

 

Sound like your kind of place?

Go ahead and subscribe - I'll make sure you get the updates in your inbox, and you'll find out how to sign up for the free Start Your Day with Purpose program.