Sunday, May 27, 2012

Factory reset

The last few weeks have been more than a little crazy. At work the mood's not great - there is alot of change going on and uncertainty about people's jobs. At the same time as dealing with the emotional side, we're trying to get a huge project out before the end of June. So midweek pilates has started to take a back seat.

Socially I've been going at it pretty hard. It's been great to have an outlet and let my hair down a bit, but I've been waking up tired and therefore sometimes skipping my ride/walk to work in favour of the train. It also means I'm not always packing my breakfast/lunch for the next day. I attended a three-day conference and my food choices weren't the best (though admittedly they were better than the same time last year).

So I've been feeling a little out of control. Luckily I have had enough clarity to recognise the signs and not want to slide any further backwards. It's was time for what I'm calling a 'factory reset'. I need to slow down and focus, get centred and be more mindful in my actions.

I've made a list of things I'm going to focus on:

  • do things more slowly and deliberately
  • balance my social life with 'stillness' time
  • prepare my breakfast and lunch in the evenings
  • cut out alcohol
  • be conscious making time to ride/walk and go to pilates
  • consolidate on Sunday evenings: make sure all is in order for the week ahead (inc. bills and tasks written down that need to be done that week)
It sounds a bit dull, but I'm feeling its necessary.

One thing I am excited about is the date I have made with myself for Friday nights for a month. just this  past Friday I came home from work and cleaned my room, made a mash-up dinner and settled down to work on the mittens I have been making for winter. Kind of grandma I know, but I don't care. It was the most relaxing and rejuvenating night I'd had in months. 

Mash-up dinner: Grass fed sausages with sauteed garlic,
broccoli, and carrot baked with an Holbrook egg
Sunday breakfast: Sauteed kale and bacon,
scrambled Holbrook eggs with roast pumpkin
Weekend lunch: 'Left over roast chicken' soup

Friday, May 25, 2012

Where I'm going

(SYLC 20)

This week it's time to check as to how I'm progressing with my goals. Back in week six of the SYLC I set out the following goal for myself:
"My broad goal for this year is to explore my own agenda and live to it. I want to avoid being distracted by the noise. I want to tune into myself, recognise when I experience flow and when I feel a fire of passion burning inside like I did at the moment I began this whole journey eight years ago."
My first thought was that I hadn't progressed, but actually that's not true at all.

I've definitely been better at not being distracted by the noise around me - at work especially. It's helping me be more focused during the day. I've also pulled back from getting caught up in other people's issues. I love to help people, it's a big part of who I am. But I also know that people need to be ready for that help, that I cannot solely carry their burdens for them.

I have definitely tuned into myself. I now listen to my body, which tells me instantly when I've eaten the wrong thing or partied just a bit too hard, that it's time to slow down. As I increase the amount of exercise I do by riding to work or taking the advanced pilates class, I feel my body get stronger. But I also dont beat myself up if I don't make the Sunday morning class.

As to what the next leap in my professional journey will be, I'm actually feel I'm making the first steps. I've engaged with a wonderful psychologist whom with I'm exploring what makes my heart sing. The approach is very creative, I'm loving it and view it as an investment in myself.

Like Debra, I have a real interest in helping people make the most of their lives. I'd go as far as saying it's a passion and am determined to explore this as a possible career. I don't know what shape that takes yet. I know it will be multimodal, that it will integrate all the skills I have developed through my life. I'm reading alot and and talking to some very talented people about what this might look like. I'm daring to dream it will happen.

Last night I came across this piece by Ben Okri that spoke perfectly as to where I am in my life. It's a journey that I feel like I'm just at the beginning of. So exciting.

To an English Friend in Africa

Be grateful for freedom
To see other dreams.
Bless your loneliness as much as you drank
Of your former companionships.
All that you are experiencing now
Will become moods of future joys
So bless it all.

Do not think your ways superior
To another's
Do not venture to judge
But see things with fresh and open eyes
Do not condemn
But praise what you can
And when you can't be silent.

Time is now a gift for you
A gift of freedom
To think and remember and understand
The ever perplexing past
And to re-create yourself anew
In order to transform time.

Live while you are alive.
Learn the ways of silence and wisdom
Learn to act, learn a new speech
Learn to be what you are in the seed of your spirit
Learn to free yourself from all things that have moulded you
And which limit your secret and undiscovered road.

Remember that all things which happen
To you are raw materials
Endlessly fertile

Endlessly yielding of thoughts that could change
Your life and go on doing for ever.

Never forget to pray and be thankful
For all the things good or bad on the rich road;
For everything is changeable
So long as you live while you are alive.

Fear not, but be full of light and love;
Fear not but be alert and receptive;
Fear not but act decisively when you should;
Fear not, but know when to stop;
Fear not for you are loved by me;
Fear not, for death is not the real terror,
But life -magically - is.

Be joyful in your silence
Be strong in your patience
Do not try to wrestle with the universe
But be sometimes like water or air
Sometimes like fire

Live slowly, think slowly, for time is a mystery.
Never forget that love
Requires that you be
The greatest person you are capable of being,
Self-generating and strong and gentle-
Your own hero and star.

Love demands the best in us
To always and in time overcome the worst
And lowest in our souls.
Love the world wisely.

It is love alone that is the greatest weapon
And the deepest and hardest secret.

So fear not, my friend.
The darkness is gentler than you think.
Be grateful for the manifold

And the many ways of unnumbered peoples.

Be grateful for life as you live it.
And may a wonderful light
Always guide you on the unfolding road.

Friday night and the lights are low

(SYLC 19 & 27)

Routines. In theory I like the idea of them but it comes down to it I get bored… and very quickly. It's who I am, I like mixing things up. I like doing things in different ways. Experimenting. I'm the person that never follows a recipe to the tee.

In saying that, I do have a couple of routines and could very well do with introducing some more. For example, I do my washing on a Saturday morning, a habit which is a hangover from many years of having to wash at the laundromat. I kept it because I like having everything clean and put away by Sunday evening (she says as she stares at pile of unfolded laundry from last weekend). Another is the nightly ritual of getting my breakfast and lunch prepared for the next day. Just doing this I feel that things are fairly well under control. It means I'm eating well and not spending money unnecessarily.

However there are a number of areas I fall short. I do need to introduce a routine around backing up my computer/phone/ipad/camera and cleaning out emails. I lost my phone a week ago, and while iCloud was a saviour, I should be actively backing up on at least a monthly basis. I also need to get better at those little tasks that I tend to put off - like getting back to people on small things. Setting aside a time to do both of these would help me keep on top of them.

But this topic doesn't end there for me, as lately I've been thinking about routines in terms of 'me time' instead of task time.

People asume that living by myself I get alot of time to myself to just be. Nuh uh.

My life is pretty full. Don't get me wrong, I like it this way. I love going out, meeting new people and learning new things, taking the opportunities that come my way. But there is a large part of me that is introvert and I definitely recharge my batteries best by hibernating alone.

Many years ago after my divorce I lived alone for the first time in my life and loved it. While the weeks were busy with work and events and the weekends for catching up with friends, Friday night was sacred. I came home, cleaned my apartment, had a glass of wine and unwound in any way I chose. I did alot of thinking and reflecting in those hours.

This week I decided to do a bit of a reset after another busy period, and as part of that I'm reintroducing Friday nights as sacred. At least for a month I'll come home, do one house job, then settle in to catch up on myself.

I must say, I'm not so secretly looking forward to it!

I dream of this house when I think about hibernating.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Do you think I procrastinate?

(SYLC 18)

"Do you think I procrastinate?"

I asked my dear friend P as we drained a huge pot of tea at Saturday breakfast. I'd been thinking about this all week and already knew the answer was yes. Like everyone, I procrastinate. I put things off I don't want to do in favour of more pleasurable activities. Hey, I'm human.

Or that's what I thought the extent of it was. But his answer actually totally took me by surprise. It's not the small things that he thinks I drag my feet on, but fairly big life decisions. He gave me numerous examples, including the following.

For years I was quite unhappy with my living situation - I was sharing an apartment and it was really getting me down. I really wanted my own space. Even though I had the means to get out I delayed the jump for another three years, alot of that time feeling miserable and wanting out. 

Why did I wait so long? I know the answer to that now question. It was fear – fear of not making the right decision, the best decision, the OPTIMAL decision. In this case if I lived alone it would cost me more and I didn't think I could afford it. What if I bought and it wasn't the perfect place? What if I rushed and made a poor decision? 

What I didn't realise at the time was what the current living situation was costing me was far more expensive – damage to my emotional state and hindrance to my personal growth. When I did get out the first thing I thought was "Why did I wait so long to do this?".

I have to thank P for sharing his insights with me. He's right of course, and I've learned something very valuable about myself. If something doesn't feel right, or isn't working, procrastinating on a change is not really an option. Delaying what will be inevitable can mean wasted time (years in my case), and damage that can take time to mend. As as I've been reminded lately, time is short.

There is no more perfect time than now.
Postscript: This week's challenge also reminded me that delaying the inevitable can only make matters worse on the small things also. I've been putting off a presentation that I need to put together for a conference next week because it has seemed huge and I was a bit stuck on how to structure it. I decided to delay in writing this blog (what I really wanted to do with my spare time) until AFTER I completed a presentation. I procrastinated on the presentation all week… but it's almost done, so here's my post :-)

Postscript: and the final presentation

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