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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The Vacation Paradox

 

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Sunset over the Jekyll Island Salt Marsh

Sorry I have been MIA for a few weeks.  I was out of town all last week and playing catch up this week.  Last week we started the week in Savannah, where I had a conference.  On Wednesday we headed to my favorite place in Georgia, Jekyll Island. The Island is owned by the state and preserved as a state park so development is limited and natural beauty abounds.  We also stayed at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel, which was built in the 1800’s as the millionaire’s club and became the first location of the Federal Reserve.  Staying there is kind of bucket list experience.  We got a deal and as someone who is focusing more on experiences than material things; we decided to go for it.  We were not disappointed.

I was puzzled by something and mentioned it to my husband when we got home and felt every bit of “vacation fun” in our run and energy level.  Why is it so hard to “fit in” or rather “stick with” the healthy habits that seem to be so effortless at home where we also have all the stress and pressure of jobs, family obligations, house obligations, etc.  In theory vacation is full of time.  Shouldn’t that mean I can meditate longer, exercise, more, seek out the best and healthiest food options?

Well I can clearly answer this for me with a resounding, maybe.  What I mean is yes the time is there, but the motivation that seems to come so naturally at home in my “real” life is lacking in my vacation self.  We ate poorly.  I had not been drinking alcohol except very infrequently but I definitely enjoyed some wine and craft beer, in moderation.  I am proud to say I did meditate everyday, but if I am being perfectly honest  I would say, meditation light.  I did shorter sessions and I often was not as fully there as I would like to be.  As for exercise, this one hubby and I usually get right.  This time a busy conference at the start ate up my time and a hubby’s foot injury at Jekyll put an end to long runs along the beach and bike rides.  Oh, and in an effort to cut meditation time down even my daily yoga practice bit the dust.

So, what did all of this tell me?  A few things actually.  First thing, habits and routine are clearly an important part of my healthy lifestyle.  It is okay to fall off the wagon as long as you don’t lose sight of it completely.  Beware, catching it again after a lazy week of poor habits is going to hurt.  Meditation and the practice of being present and letting go did let me move past the things we hoped to do that became impossible when hubby got injured and appreciate where we were and the opportunity to be lazy together.  In the past I would have focused on the lost plans and failed to appreciate and honor the present with gratitude and an open heart.

 


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Observations from the Last Two Weeks

 

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Dung in the Rose Garden at Balboa Park

 

I have not written in a little while because we have had a lot going on, most recently a 4 day trip to San Diego to visit my husband’s mom and brother.  We rarely get to see just them.  Usually when we go to California we try to see as much of the whole family as possible and that is well over 45 people all together.  Quiet moments with Dung’s mom are few and far between when we have everyone together.  It was lovely a low key visit.  We spent a little time sightseeing on our own and most of our time just hanging out with his mom, meeting her friends, and eating more food than I typically consume in a month.  For his family “eat” roughly translated means “I love you.”  So we ate.  I am not going to recap everything from the last 2 weeks but now that I am more mindful I did notice a few things I thought I would mention.

  1. I was able to meditate and do my daily Vinyasa Flow even on vacation.  I meditated shorter but still found time.  In fact, it is now just what I do so it was not even really about finding time.
  2. I was more relaxed and peaceful while we were in California than I have been in the past.  I credit meditation and my attempts to stay present and in the moment.
  3. I had a cool moment with a friend and colleague this week.  She wanted to meet for lunch and talk about life, her career, etc.  She said “I don’t know I just wanted to sit down with you because you are one of the few people I know who just seems genuinely happy.”  In that moment I realized I am genuinely grateful, peaceful and content and I guess in short that is happiness.  It certainly took long enough to realize it.
  4. We cut the cable chord.  We decided we wanted to watch less TV and that we just could not justify throwing away the money anymore.  We have a longer term goal, our retirements and move to the pacific northwest.  We have an antennae for local TV and we stream Netflix, Amazon and Sling.  Saving over $100.00 a month.
  5. I have gotten to volunteer more with the Good Mews Cat Shelter and that should make me stressed and feel like I have less time but I actually feel more satisfied and calm.
  6. I was listening to that same friend mentioned above and she said, “I am never off of work.  Even on vacation I am just not at the office, but I am still at work.  I can never be off.”  Wow, that was another full circle moment.  Just ask my husband, a few years ago that was me.  I would have thought “of course not.  It’s work.”  This time I had a physically different reaction I felt sad and a little sick.  I explained to her she would burn out and she had to carve out things that mattered to her and devote time to them.  It was like an out-of-body experience, because a few years ago someone was telling me that.
  7. Lastly, I had a weird moment at work.  I am responsible for keeping our rate information at my job.  I was out last week on vacation and my supervisor redid a chart I have been maintaining for years.  She sent it to me and I said “Thanks I will update my spreadsheet.”  She came to my office and said don’t just use mine from now on I like it better.  Immediately without thinking I started defending my old spreadsheet.  I was going on about it and I suddenly heard myself and just stopped.  All day it was kind of in the back of my mind.  This time I kept asking myself, “why does this matter to me so much?”  I am not sure I answered that question.  Instead I just accepted that it does, but it should not and I let it go.  You know what?  We still have the info we need.

I hope you have been having a good two weeks and your summer is off to a successful beginning.


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An Ode to Letting it Just Happen

My husband and I are wrapping up our week off by going to the oldest Art Festival in Atlanta, The Dogwood Festival.  We did not even know this festival was this weekend and that is the point of this post.  My husband and I took this week off without any plans.  We went planless and without expectations and guess what ensued?  Life and simple joys ensued.  We won’t have a great answer to the question that always follows time away from routine, “what did you do on your vacation?”  Not because we did not do amazing things or have amazing experiences but they were not the traditional sound bite experiences.  We did not go zip lining in the mountains or body surfing at the beach.

Instead we had quiet conversations and held hands, we rode bicycles, ran and exercised our bodies.  We were quiet together and I spent time talking to my mother about the books she loves.  We cooked delicious meals and we shared his love of music with my at a seedy bar.  We laughed about all of it.  I had time to meditate and read.  These activities may not make great pictures but they made my life richer.   This is not natural or easy for me.  If you don’t believe me read my post on discipline and you will understand how unusual this is for me.  I am a planner.  In fact my good friend always imitates me by saying, “get a plan and execute the plan.”  I love a plan.  I am passionate about regime and routine.  As I move toward a more open and relaxed me, I am trying to put it in its place.  I am trying to use routine to allow more time for the unexpected gifts to develop.  It is not easy but it is so worth it.

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So no, maybe we did not have beautiful beach pictures.  Maybe some people may think “what a waste of time off.”   I think I leave this week off having had time to add to the things I value: mental and physical health, relationships, our cats, growth, reading and writing.  These are not your values.  Your time would be better spent doing something else.  What I would urge is to throw away the list and expectation.  Open your mind to the possible and not the planned.