Unscheduled Maitenence

My personal “check engine” light has been glaring at me for the last weeks. I look at the date and think “Where did January go?!” I have been busy, yes, but certainly not so much that I could miss an entire month passing by.

Somehow I thought that life would find this magical place where the hourglass would even out and I would have time. Yet alas, no. Not yet.

Bug in SnowLooking at my posts for the last year and taking stock, it seems this is rather a continuous problem for me. Whirlwinds of adventure mean that time goes quickly. It is a reminder to appreciate moments but also that maybe I should finally take stock and figure out a bigger chunk of what I am doing. Hello Adult-Type World, I guess I am in you now.

In addition to figuring out my big-girl-pants next life steps, I’ve been in the process of trying to come to terms with this blog. See, at the end of December I broke my steak of blog posts. Once I missed one, I missed many. It is sad to say that a habit can so easily fall apart.

Instead of wallowing, however, I’m pushing myself to get the thing done and, imperfect as it will seem to me as soon as I hit publish, I will ship this today… or at least “today” Eastern Standard Time. Sounds like a rather inauspicious beginning but such has been the journey to this point and so at least that wild streak will continue.

The Tune Up

The conclusion that I have come to, my dear reader, is that Wednesdays don’t work for me. It isn’t anything that they did, you see, it is just me. I’ve changed. I’m not breaking up with them entirely though, I hope we are going to remain friends.

[Read more...]

New Year’s Hangover

I want to be that blogger who posts this amazing piece on the 1st. I want to ring in the new dawn with tidings of accomplishment and set intentions for the new year.

I want to be caught up on my APADing, tweeting, blog, book-facing and instagraming. I want to be the one with an amazing retro-montage of the last year of travels, experiences and accomplishments.

NYE1I want my ‘thank you’s to have been appreciatively written, and my friends and family fully checked in on and feeling the love that I have for them. I want my laundry to be clean and aired, cupboards physical and metaphorical clean. I want to be the girl with her house in order.

I am not that girl.

I am waking to a glorious day in Dublin in a mental and emotional hangover. [Read more...]

The Horizon

Whilst playing To Do List whack-a-mole over the last two weeks I’ve had rumblings and churnings of posts but nothing that I feel like is complete. This is a common problem I know, as is last minute writing before deadline to get it done.

My issue is neither starting nor finishing right now. My problem is creating the head space to concentrate on anything longer than the next three minutes or think about that which is past today.

I’m onsite in Orlando and part of the squeeze is the work I’m being paid to do is supposed to take priority. I’ve also been distracted by friends, start of the semester concerns and projects with their own imminent or past deadlines… and of course the always shiny internets.

I’ve felt anxious and scattered in waves while trying to concentrate on my project and deal with whatever is most screaming for attention. Not ideal productivity conditions.

Horizon
This morning, after about 4 hours of sleep, bleary eyed and slightly congested I awoke in time for a beautiful sunrise. (my picture doesn’t do it justice)

That image combined with watching some corporate speak powerpoints in 80foot wide aspect, sprinkled with planning and goal posts I’ve been reading during renders (some of which are below) and a caffeine kick, coalesced an idea in my monkey brain. Fair waring: because of the ingredients at play, it might not make a lick of sense.

With the economy and election, protests and priorities for the new year, the idea of a fresh horizon appears to be permeating culture right now.

I’m not a design expert but from the small lines of serif fonts, to election logos, to striking whitespace between blocks, horizontal is making a comeback. It seems we are drawn by the implied space between disparate objects and the promise of something cleaner.

Or maybe that is where I am. Caught in the frenetic of my day-to-day I keep thinking that my pace will be more calm in a few hours/days/weeks and then I can plan/write/meditate/work on that one thing. Then reality strikes again and methinks mahaps the beautiful distant future will always be just that.

Yet the horizon can always be an idea or ideal to be working towards.

Jeff Goins has some interesting thoughts about not making plans though still starting step by step to accomplish towards your goals. Certainly the blunt “I have no idea what I’m doing” finds resonance here as does his advice on plans (which echoes in other verbiage my musings on schedule). Mostly, I like the idea of doing to become habit to become process to become achievement.

I have yet to define my plans for this year. I have some goals and objectives but a defined work-set is one of many items hanging on my honey-do list. I know when I get back to Athens things will naturally take more shape and, with intention, I’ll find a positive routine. That, however, is all tomorrow-thinking and really I just have the attention and mental capacity right now for today.

My positive-step habit for this morning was: stop and appreciate the sunrise.

I tried to quiet all of the other soundlings of my mind and Be IN. Mischief managed.

Yes, the calm lasted all of 30 seconds before my alarm reminded me I was needed in the shower but it was a good reprieve while it lasted. It allowed me the space to ramp back up with a little more spring.

Like looking into the distance when feeling seasick, a few moments contemplating the horizon can ease a little of the tension and pressure of immediate and focus on the positive and possible.

A calming and helpful thought as I settle in to bop more off my list.

Sunset

If you’d like some interesting reading that has found purchase in my brain this week here is some linkage:

PS: Software salespeople seem happier than accountants. Make of that what you will.

Anyone else giving up on plans and instead focusing on the horizon?

(Un)Flinching

The Universal FlinchI forgot my book when I left the house this morning so started “The Flinch” on the train into work. I arrived home this evening and I got into a very cold shower.

No, not like that — read the book.

I don’t know how long exactly I was in there but it was at least the requisite 5 minutes.

I listened to all of the screaming voices in my head saying that it was stupid and dangerous and pointless… and I did it anyway. Stepping into the spray. Shivering. Feeling the needle pricks on my legs over and over and over. Counting my breaths.

Even now as I am typing it sounds so foolish because it was so little.

Yes, the inevitable comparison to how others live: As I switched over to hot water I thought about all those that don’t have that option.

I also thought about how I wished I had just talked to the person on the subway platform instead (read the book). I thought about talking to my boys at the bar. It doesn’t really scare me to go into an unfamiliar place alone and sit and either be by myself or talk to someone.

I smiled at some folks on the tubes. Made space for someone who needed a seat. But “no problem” was the only conversation I made. While I know I could have done more, I flinched and talked myself out of it.

Lesson learned.

I also did do was more difficult for me: I came home and got in the cold shower. I’m glad I did. [Read more...]

Have yourself a merry little.

06050287

“I really don’t need any more crap in my life.”
This was my rather undiplomatic announcement to my family Thanksgiving weekend. I have such eloquence don’t I?

I was specifically referring to the annual “What are the rules and expectations for Christmas?” conversation.  I was more generally referring to my life.

May your days be merry and bright…

With my parents still married, being one of 4 siblings, and then husbands, children and fiancés added to the mix, the holidays had been getting out of control. For the last few years we had made various attempts at scaling back — from secret santa to “no presents except stockings” — but I still felt the pinch of expenses and pressure of expectations.

And honestly, I had been given a lot of stuff that I just didn’t want or need over the last many years.

i already have more presents than you!!

Yes, I have also received some very thoughtful gifts which I do appreciate. We have also done the volunteer thing and the charitable contribution thing which has its advantages and more heart than the black friday thing.

Yet I still feel like the obligation obliterates the spirit of the season.

I much rather be given a random “thought you would like/could use/needed this” present then one delivered on official holiday.

By the end of Thanksgiving weekend we made decision to forgo the usual presents and trappings all together. That wasn’t just a royal “we,”  I was certainly leading the charge but it was truly a communal decision.

Most of the family will be spread across the country (including me in NYC) so I expect a number of sykpe or iChat sessions, some kind words and perhaps cards exchanged. At least that is my hope.

That makes me happy.

Central Park Snow and Pines

And may all your Christmases be white…

December for me this year is personally about cleaning out. I’m usually pretty choosy about what I like and would rather purchase well intentioned (and researched) items myself. More importantly, am clearing out the unnecessary and I really don’t need or want any more crap to enter back into my life.

I cleaned out my closet. I gave a fair number of things to my sister who exclaimed, “this is better than Christmas!” I plan to donate the rest including 2 suits which I’ve worn twice in the 10+ years I’ve owned them. I plan to never need a suit again.

Gold Sequened Fabulousness

I’ll be giving the two formal dresses pictured (from 1996 and 1999 ) to a special needs high school prom “closet” created by the Junior League. Every girl should wear a gold sequenced dress once in her life. I wore that number many happy times. Just not in the past 7 years and 4 moves. So I’m saying goodbye to the material and will hold on to the memories.

I’m not going as far as the 100 items challenge but I’ve been doing very critical analysis of what I actually use. For my clothes, if unworn in the last 6 months the question was: “Would I take this to Italy?” If not, into the donate pile it went. (even if it doesn’t go to Italy it is still a decent measure)

Finally, (finally!) I’m putting myself on a budget. I’ve started a dated “desires” list. Non-recycled/vintage items must be on the list for 30 days before purchase. This includes books. My Amazon Wishlist is going nuts but I still have a full to-read shelf to get through. My two transgressions have both been kickstarter campaigns (bike zines and the versalette).

I’m culling through this box and that drawer, and continuing a process of purge that I started 4 years ago. It feels good. And I haven’t missed a thing yet.

That is the point right? A cleaner slate. Honestly decide what is actually needed and necessary. What has surprised me is that I don’t feel constrained. Yes, it is cliche but, I do feel more at ease and – dare I say – free.

Cliches by nature are that which repetitively prove true.

I will try to stay true to these values throughout my three weeks in NYC (starting tomorrow!) It will be a time to work, enjoy and reflect. I am doing my own annual review this year and setting “streamlined and freer” intentions for the new year. As soon as those are more formed I’ll share them here.

The biggest boulder I fear is my belly. My fiscal weakness has always been not concerning myself with I spend on food and drink. I eat healthfully, yet more importantly to the bottom line (wah wah), fully and well both when I go out to eat and at home. So far I have restricted my spending on study coffee and beer, cooked for myself more, and tried to be more budget minded when I buy food at the grocery or out to eat. Setting and sticking to a budget is going to be really important for this area.

The challenge of course is that my “eats” list for the city is long and — another cleaning — I have been prepping to go fully vegan in February. I have been vegetarian in previous times for as long as 6 years and been “flex” for about 4. Never tried vegan (I <3 you cheese) but it is on my list. I’m planning to start yoga teacher certification in the new year and there is a multi-step dietary progression as part of that. [expect more about this later in future posts]

So here is the plan for New York: I’m not going to be overly self critical nor am I going to give myself permission to go nuts as a “gotta eat all this crap now while I can” binge. I will find an amenable middle ground. (starting probably with the ah-maze-ing vegan chocolate cake at Blossom Cafe)

Small steps.

Wow that was a lot more personal than I expected. Why am I sharing all this? Coalescing my own thoughts. Certification. Maybe inspire a few others to think about their own choices and intentions for the new year.

And that is where I am this day.  Hope wherever you are you are well, warm and preparing for a season of glad tidings and joy.

Central Park Snow 

I feel like I am hearing similar “clean” thoughts from a number of people. Please share any intentions you have for the rest of the month. What do you hope for in the season or the coming year?

Images via Flickr under CC license by: Roger Price (06050287), torbakhopper (I already have more presents than you), and the snow images are from 2010 by yours truly.