From Type A to Type Ahh

Be the Change You Wish to See in the World – Ghandi


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Giving Single Tasking A Try

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Work has been crazy and I have felt literally underwater.  My husband and I leave on Monday for an early 20th anniversary trip to the Bahamas.  We will be at an all-inclusive resort.  I had an audacious goal.  I want to fully be on vacation, no checking into work or answering a few emails.  There seemed to be insurmountable obstacles between me and that goal: emails I had not had time to answer since December, scheduled all day outreach programs, project deadlines, and a back log of office work.  This week I employed two things that I have been actively trying to work on: saying I am sorry I can’t do that and single-tasking.  Truth be told they were hard and had the reward, an actual work and guilt free vacay with my life partner of 26 years, not been there I would have descended into old habits.  Eye on the prize…she persisted!

How did it go?  I did something I have never done.  I had nearly 1,000 email to go through so I set aside an entire morning and went through them one by one.  I have done that before, of course I have usually had on podcasts or been answering the phone or talking to someone in my office at the same time.  This time I just did my email.  More about the unexpected power of single tasking later.  Here is what I never did before.  I  deleted emails without doing what the person asked, if they just emailed out of the blue and it was not relevant.  I also responded to some and said something I never say, “I am sorry I don’t have time.”  I have to admit at first I felt guilty than I felt liberated.  It is freeing to realize you don’t have to do everything, just because someone asks.

That list of the insurmountable number of things I had to do, I decided to try single tasking.  Meaning giving each task my full attention while doing it.  Admittedly my husband has been going on and on about this for years.  How I should just focus on one thing!  Of course great for him, he is a guy. Right, ladies?  It kills me to say this, because he was right, I actually got so much done in much less time and feel like I did a better job.  Of course I hate it because he was right.  I love him of course; I just don’t necessarily love him being right instead of me.  Long story short I walked out of work on time yesterday, put my out of office to back February 26 can’t be reached and I am ready to be fully present with just my husband in the Caribbean.  See you when we return!


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Control Confession

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Fair warning this is embarrassing and sorry if you may see yourself in this too.  Believe me I did not want to see myself.  So first things first.  I am writing this blog on a Wednesday morning exactly 48 minutes into what would be by normal work day.  This is causing me only mild heart palpitations.  How did I get here and what did I find out.

This is one of those weeks and I have to admit even the more Zen version of myself has been staring it down on my calendar.  I have to work late nearly everyday this week.  In the past this is how this would have played out.  I would show up at work at my normal time, meaning at least 10 minutes before my scheduled start time 7 AM. I would work through lunch and then continue on with my evening obligations of speaking, teaching, etc.  I would bolt some innocuous meal between driving from event to event and then get home exhausted and take it out on my husband while running around the house like a lunatic, maniacaly setting up to do it all over tomorrow.  Instead I am writing my blog at 7:53.

What changed?  This is where the big, embarrassing realization happened.  In preparation for this week I asked myself why was I doing this.  If I knew I had to work long hours, why was I still coming in at 7 AM and pushing through meals, etc.  Wouldn’t it be great if my answer was because I am driven by a purpose greater than myself and the work I do is a calling I follow without regard to additional hours.  Caveat, I am passionate about what I do.  I mean really who does not need clean drinking water?  However, I am not singularly passionate.  It does not eclipse my family, my husband, my friends, and my cats.  Why was I always making this choice?  I am after all a big fan of control.  Imagine my surprise when I got quiet during meditation and the answer seemed clear.  If I did not do this what would everyone think of me?  What?  I am an independent, strong woman.  I am a control freak.  Was the truth that I had always been turning over my control to popular opinion? That I had made this decision over and over to project and protect this image of a hyper-focused professional?  An opinion might I add, I had no evidence even existed.

Turns out the answer was yes.  Face Palm!  So here I am.  I got to write my blog, I enjoyed my run, meditation, yoga, and I calmly prepped for tomorrow this morning.  So tonight after my event, instead of the inevitable “I am tired and I am stressed let’s fight to the death” evening with my husband.  We are planning a relaxing dinner out.  I will leave you with this popular, though often disregarded thought.  “We would not spend time worrying about what others thought of us; if we realized how rarely they do.”


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Technology Togetherness

 

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This month has been a struggle and I have noticed a few things good and bad.  Since I am all about keeping this space honest and not making it look like changing core aspects of yourself is a walk in the park here are some observations I have made in pursuit of a less technology influenced Zen.  I use my phone a lot.  I mean enough that I can really notice and physically struggle not to use it.  So not proud of that.  In my mind’s eye I see a much more evolved version of myself.  Unfortunately, the harsh light of day I see me and my phone.

Giving up social media is really hard when your job and your volunteer work require you to use it.  If I am being totally honest there are parts of it I really miss, but parts I am grateful that I am missing.  I really truly miss keeping up with the Good Mews Shelter on our Facebook Page. I could tell which kitties got adopted and support other volunteers and I do feel out of the loop and not in that zen mountain top kind of way, but in that I am not fully supporting my friends and organization kind of way.  Also there are times that social media really provides some micro-local information faster than anywhere else.  See how by using my phone less I have had time to completely invent words like “micro-local”.  For instance we had another snow and ice event and I am not going to lie I used social media to get updates on roads, the County’s status since I work there and the school system where my husband works.  I also used it to make sure my friends and family were okay.  The other thing I miss is that these platforms, particularly Facebook, are a way to stay connected to family and friends I don’t see.  No, it is not the same as Face to face.  I feel that in the rare instances when we can get together face to face I feel closer to them because I am connected to them through this platform.

What I did not miss and where I think I sometimes got dragged along is all the other stuff.  The vitriol, the news stories, the fighting, and proselytizing.  I don’t think that elevates the discourse.  I can’t tell you how glad I was to have the mental peace of mind during the whole Government shutdown.  I think what has come out of this is a more intentional use of social media.  I think I may actually post less and support more.  I can better prioritize what to use the platform for so it becomes a benefit and not a distraction.

On using the phone less as a whole that has had mixed results and interesting revelations also.  This post has been long enough.  I will expand on that in my next post.  Hope your new year is off and running.


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The Not So Pretty Truth

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So I guess the whole reason that we, people, try new things, adopt resolutions, set goals is to be a better version of ourselves.  At least that is true for me.  A better version for me means a more present, calmer, and compassionate person.  I have been working on that.  It means letting go of  a lot.  For a self-proclaimed, and let’s be honest, other proclaimed uptight perfectionist it isn’t easy.

Again more honesty.  I was feeling pretty good about my progress.  I am less reactive, I do notice when I am acting out of judgement, etc.  For god sake I meditate!  Then I decided to set limits on my phone.  What no one tells you about the road to a better you is that you walk a lot of it in the harsh light of day with the current version of you.  I have to say limiting my phone has been harder than meditating everyday.  A fact I am not proud of!  Could I really be so dependent on some small metal and glass device.  Sadly, the answer is yes.

I had a couple of hurdles to overcome.  The first is well-known and often written about FOMO – Fear of Missing Out.  Without accessing social media for a month and not accessing my phone for several days a week once I leave work, I felt two things I was unprepared for: anxiety and guilt.  Anxiety came from the fear of not being responsive to a work issue that might rise.  It had been a long time since I physically and mentally left the office.  It felt strange.  I somehow felt unmoored.  What was going on at the office and if I was not fixing it who was?  Yeah I know right? Ego much?  I had kind of taken a lot of pride in being the always available hero of my own narrative.

The other issue of guilt took me more by surprise.  I felt really guilty being home and setting that boundary between work and home.  They had inadvertently over the years melted into one thing. I am home but mentally tethered to my work umbilical cord courtesy of Apple.  Why was I feeling guilty about leaving work at work and trying to be present with my husband, family, friends and cats?  As if that question was not bad enough.  I found an even worse one.  Why wasn’t I guilty about all the time I was not being physically and mentally present at home and in my relationships?

Well the struggle is real, and the truth can be ugly.  Until we look it dead in the eyes and set the phone to airplane mode.  Still on the uncertain road to better version of myself.  One missed tweet at a time!


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Pulling Away from the Phone in 2018

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It is that time to set my Year Goal.  I won’t be starting resolutions, because I believe they are too restrictive and we shoot for things that may not be attainable.  At least that is how it works for me.  It may not be the case for you.  Last year I had a lot of success and ended up achieving some additional benefits from the goal to meditate everyday, whether for 1 minute or 30 minutes.

This year I gave a lot of thought to my big goal for 2018.  It has to do with my phone.  I think, like the simple concept to meditate, this goal may also come with some ancillary benefits.  In short my goal is to be less dependent on my phone.  How am I going to work toward this goal?  I have already begun but I will share my pretty simple plan.

  1. The month of January I am on a Social Media break (no Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn).  If people want to connect with me they will have to do it the of-fashioned way…Text. LOL
  2. On Tuesday and Thursday night after I get in from work I put my phone on airplane mode.  I believe I have finally realized that I don’t have to be available to everyone 24 hours a day.  Instead I am choosing to be fully available to the people and cats who mean the most to me, by not being tethered to my phone.
  3. On Saturday I am not taking my phone with me when hubby and I go out or if I do it will be in Airplane mode as a just for emergencies thing.

These  may not seem like life altering changes.  Like meditation last year, I started small and gained big insights that I built on.  I suspect this will be similar.  I hope your 2018 is off to a mindful and present start.

 


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Happy New Year

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So 2017 is coming to an end.  It has been a good year and I have definitely made progress toward becoming less of a Type A personality.  I would not say the road has been smooth, without detours, nor have we reached the Nirvana destination.  I will reserve my next steps in the New year post for 2018.  Today I want to say Happy New year and thanks to those who have read about my journey and whose journeys I have enjoyed following.

In closing I will hit a few highlights from this year.

  1. Today is day 405 of consecutive meditation.  I can say I don’t think I have ever done anything that has been as personally life changing. It is now an indelible part of my life.
  2. Cultivating a gratitude attitude.  There have been ups and downs.  I write this right now and I am waiting for the third day for my landlord to fix our backed up sewer I am finding it a struggle to focus on gratitude.  I know that I have a home during the polar vortex.  I have heat and I have someone to celebrate the new year with.  My hubby, myself and our kitties are healthy.  In general my husband and I have embraced starting our meals with three things we are grateful for.  So I am better at being able to find those things even if it does not completely stop my frustration.  I suspect hubby and I will continue this.
  3. I found my way back to vegetarianism very organically which I did not expect.  When you start recognizing and acting from your priorities things seem to more naturally align.
  4. I have cleared out some physical clutter, but still my husband and I added some purchases to our lives and homes. I am still not entirely sure where that line is for me.  It is ever a work in progress.  I do find myself asking more questions about whether we really need something.
  5. Lastly, I finally actually really pulled the trigger on volunteering outside my career field.  It has been really rewarding.  I find it has given me much more than I have given.

Tomorrow will be a day to focus on this year’s shortcomings and how to improve.  For today Happy New Year!  I hope you are looking back at the progress you made with a peaceful and happy heart.


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Merry Christmas

 

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Hubby and I last week at the Jeff Galloway Half

It is Christmas today and I hope everyone is enjoying time and making memories with their families.  This has been a pretty successful slow Christmas for me.  I thought I would take a moment to wish you all a happy holiday and record, mostly for me what made this holiday successful.

  1. Hubby and I don’t do gifts.  What we do instead is both take off the end of the year for his school break.  We spend time together and are able to slow down and fully appreciate all that we have, especially each other.
  2. Even though I was fortunate enough to be invited to a couple of parties, some I even intended to go to, I ended up saying no to all of them.  A snow storm pushed back the minimal Christmas activities I had to accomplish and I did not want to experience that harried Christmas rush.
  3. We don’t really do gifts for anyone, instead we donate to charities that mean something to them.
  4. Christmas is for children, and it is certainly the most fun to shop for kids.  Since hubby and I do not have kids we adopt a kid for Christmas from the local Boys and Girls Club.  It is fun to see if we can fulfill their Christmas list within the program’s budget cap.
  5. Listening to Christmas Music, taking  walk through the lights in your neighborhood costs zero dollars but provides the warm holiday glow.
  6. Spoil our cats.  This is where we fall down on the minimalism train. Our cats are spoiled, super spoiled.  They have floor to ceiling posts in almost every room, beds and toys.  I guess at its heart minimalism clears the way for what is important.  To hubby and I, that is our cats.  Also though they have a lot now, all 5 are rescues who were thrown away like trash, by someone else.
  7. Kept up my healthy habits.  You don’t have to spend money to enjoy the holidays but being healthy really helps.  I always found time to run and meditate.  Returning to a vegetarian diet really helped keep holiday over-indulgence to a minimum.  Left some room and calories for the occasional glass of wine too.

I hope you and yours are happy and healthy this Christmas and ready to start 2018.  Merry Christmas.