To or Not To Tuesday: Week 9

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn the last Tuesday of 2015, the To or Not To Tuesday question seems an obvious one. To make New Year’s resolutions or not to make New Year’s Resolutions.

This is a question that a lot of people ask this time of year. Many people don’t bother, either because of their personal history with failed resolutions themselves or because of the awesome stats you can find all over the place about the high percentage of people who give up on resolutions within the first few months of making them. Or they make the same resolutions over and over again, year to year, as if doing things the same way is going to produce difference results.

Another problem is that the beginning of the year leads people to make resolutions about what they think they should do. Things they have failed at in the past. Things that they are destined to fail at again, because it’s not something they WANT, but only something they feel they should do. A real set-up for failure.

For me To or Not To Tuesday is a no to making resolutions. Instead, it’s a yes to exploring a few intentions to set for the new year. The difference is that an intention doesn’t require will power, but a plan and a bit of knowledge about advances in neuroscience. I am living proof that intentions can  change my life for the better, without any will power at all. When I tried will power, it never worked. However, I became sold on the difference between resolution and intention was when, for the first time in my life, I lost a significant amount of weight (50 lbs), and have kept it off for a year.

So I’m ready to make some new intentions and document my progress over the course of the weeks and months ahead a workable way to make positive changes. I’ll show you the resources that changed my way of thinking and made it possible for me to turn my back on resolutions once and for all, but not on setting goals that are totally achievable.

How about you?

Are you making some sort of list of goals, resolutions, or intentions?

Are you curious about my (finally) successful weight loss?

Are you curious about what crazy intentions I’ll set for 2016? (me, too!)  🙂

 

 

February’s Fast Forward Fridays: My Plan

 

I will admit, there is little that derails me faster than physical clutter. Too much stuff (even if it’s organized) is still too much. I need white space, even though it took me a long time to realize that.

At the same time, when I take on too much (my biggest weakness), the “too-much” stuff seems to take on a life of its own. I get behind on putting things away, and the problem grows and grows until I’m in the situation in which I currently find myself. Hard to start anything because I feel like I’m being buried alive.

So for me, the 28 days of February are going to give me a running start at sorting, decluttering, and getting only necessary things organized. The rest are going bye-bye. This is an important step on my way to our return to the US in July. Going from our lovely apartment to 4-6 suitcases is going to be a challenge. Time to at least sort through my personal mess stuff so that I regain some white space AND have less to do when it comes time to pack.

Remember, the trick isn’t to be perfect in your list-making, but to just plan something for the next 28 days (even if you plan a few break days in, based on your personal preference).

Without further ado, here is my list for February.

  • 1 – Top shelf of closet
  • 2 – Middle shelf
  • 3 – Lower Shelf
  • 4 – First Metal Drawer
  • 5 – Second Metal Drawer
  • 6 – Three wood drawers (Fast Forward Friday – Check IN)
  • 7 – Hanging Clothes
  • 8 – Printer Cabinet (2 shelves)
  • 9 – Printer Cabinet (other 2 shelves)
  • 10 – 2 bookshelves
  • 11 – 2 bookshelves
  • 12 – 2 bookshelves
  • 13 – 2 bookshelves (FRIDAY)
  • 14 – Fabric ❤
  • 15 – Other quilting and craft supplies
  • 16 – black ottoman
  • 17 – sewing table
  • 18 – kitchen table
  • 19 – files
  • 20 – files (FRIDAY)
  • 21 – music shelves
  • 22 – bedside table
  • 23 – ironing board
  • 24 – living room surfaces
  • 25 – catch-up; maintenance
  • 26 – catch-up; maintenance
  • 27 – FRIDAY
  • 28 – CELEBRATION

See you on Friday for our first check-in!  Hope you can join us!

 

https://myriad234.wordpress.com/2015/01/31/a-free-form-february-challenge-fast-forward-fridays/

 

A Free-Form February Challenge: Fast-Forward Fridays

The Challenge That Almost Wasn’t

Two Cats

Two Cats

OK, it’s late! It’s already January 31, and I’m going to issue a challenge that begins tomorrow, February 1. Most people will think I’m crazy (and they may be correct), but I have decided I can’t wait anymore to start something that needs doing in my life. And since misery loves company I want some accountability for myself, while also helping others take care of things they need to do in their lives, I thought I’d just go ahead and do it.

Not too much thinking. Not too much planning. Just jump in and see what happens. Are you worried? Don’t be! I didn’t even have time to consider an appropriate banner for the challenge, so why not a picture of “Two Cats.” After all, cats make almost everything better for some people. And while you’re smiling at the cats, you can forget that this is a challenge. Instead, just take a deep breath and chart your course for February!

Before We Start

Have you ever been overwhelmed? By things to do? By things that invade your environment? By your own reaction to such things?

Yeah, I thought I might be the only one.

OK, I’m going to put myself out there. I’ve been on and off with my blog — not because I don’t want to do it, but because I haven’t been disciplined enough to get away from the things that are taking up my time. I’m not making excuses. And I’m not asking anyone to argue the point. (Besides, you would lose.) This is definitely something I’ve done to myself by my inability (read unwillingness) to limit the commitments I make.

janfricoffeeSo I have three and a half weeks before my normal teaching schedule starts up. My days are packed with things to catch-up on because of said over-commitment. The cool thing is I get a lot done. The uncool thing is, it never ends, and it seems like I can never catch up. Then I give in to the feeling of being overwhelmed by the mountain of deadlines and projects. And the spiral gets rather frustrating. Sure, there are factors  beyond my control, but I really do create a no-win situation for myself.

This is not news, at least not to me or anyone else who has known me for more than ten minutes. But I’m not going to bore you with the sad story. Ask about it in the comments if you really want to know.  😉

So in the aforementioned 21 days, I have more to do than most people would schedule for 21 weeks. (Again–I take total responsibility  for this state of affairs.) However, in the midst of goal setting and intention making for the rest of the year, I can no longer continue to be overwhelmed. I need to take some action.

Fast-Forward Friday Challenge

That’s where my personal challenge comes in. I figured if I could take something that really was bothering me and just commit to doing a little piece of it each day for the 28 days of February, I would accomplish more than the sum of the tasks.  What I mean is, if I can get over the feeling of being overwhelmed in one area — especially one I find especially troublesome, I will end up moving forward on other ones, mainly because of my improved frame of mind and a bit of happy momentum.

I also knew that I would trip myself up and say, “Oh geez, I just got the idea, and it’s late on the 30th of January, and February is just a day away, and I haven’t given this much thought, and I certainly should get more organized about it before inviting other people to tag along.” But as some of those same people who know about my overcommitment could tell you, I have a tendency to sometimes think and plan to the point, where I never move to the next step.

Spontaneity is good. After all, what I’m proposing for myself isn’t much of a risk. Carrying out this challenge without worrying about planning and organizing first isn’t going to make it any less effective. But much like my journey with weight loss, it begins by moving — not just thinking about it.

Details & Imaginary Rules (such as they are):

  1. You can sign up at any time during the month of February with any project that you want to make into your own personal 28-day challenge. It helps to choose something that you really want to change, but that has eluded you for whatever reason. (You can see mine when I post it in a little while and link it to this post. I’ll give you a clue. I have as much trouble with physical space sometimes as I do with my schedule.)
  2. Joining this challenge doesn’t need to displace any of the other organizational challenges you’re doing, like ROW 80 or Building Rome. The way I see it, those are ongoing. And we’re not making a long-term commitment here. It’s 28 days. I can do it. You can, too.
  3. Make a list of 1-28 for the days in February. Take your large task, and break it down into doable segments that can be accomplished in an hour or less. Don’t worry about doing it in a necessarily logical order, just make the list without worrying too much about it. Just put the tasks that will help you feel like you’re making regular progress. Make day 28 a celebration day!
  4. Post your February Free-Form Challenge plan and schedule. Feel free to link to the this post, so we can cheer each other on.

THAT is the free-form portion.

Now, the fast-forward Friday part:

  1. Each Friday in February, I’ll post my update of how I’ve done to that point in the week. You can join in as well by updating and then linking up to share your progress. You can also visit other participants and encourage their efforts.
  2. If you like the idea of a challenge within a challenge, you can make it a game, and see if you can work a day or two ahead here and there. (OK, I admit in a situation like this, I get caught up in seeing how far ahead I can get.) If you are ahead of the “game” on Friday, you can take the day off or use the day to get even further ahead. This kind of  “fast-forwarding” can pay off in one of two ways:

A) You finish all your tasks early and can take the rest of the month off from the challenge.

B) You can take the remaining days in the month and make yourself a new challenge with tasks for remaining days, and go at it again.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Our last reporting day would be on February 27, and hopefully, we will all have great progress to celebrate on Saturday.

During the month, I will post some ideas, tips, and links that can help with goal-setting, intentions, follow-through, and perseverance. Let me know if you’re after any specific information.

 

I’m interested in seeing who wants to join in. If you’re interested, check out my post with my plan for the month, and then jump in.

Send questions in the comments below.

Happy February!

 

107 days to 60

 

 

Gone Fishing!

me and cat on wallOK, maybe not exactly fishing, but I’m going to be absent from Blogland for a few days. I’ve now posted daily for over 40 days, and I’ve achieved several of my crazy blog goals that I set for August–knowing it would be the last month I had to devote that much time to blogging for a while. During the next few days, I will not be writing for my blog or posting on my blog. In addition, after the next 12 hours (a little time tonight and a little time tomorrow morning), I will not be visiting, commenting, or liking other blogs (unless I slip off the wagon) until my return toward the end of next week.

During these next few days, I will be focusing on a few deadlines and projects that need my attention. To be honest, blogging is more rewarding than some of the projects I need to do. The “responsible” part of me had considered a long-term leave from the blog, but the “rational” part of me vetoed that crazy idea. I learn so much about myself while blogging, and I am unwilling to give up the community that exists among the bloggers I interact with. My life would be so much less without blogging and the people I have met because of it. So I’m taking a short break–just a few days–to try to make sense of my schedule in a way that allows me to get things done and to honor this blogging thing, which has become so much more than simply a hobby to engage in only when I can squeeze it in.

During August, I intentionally made blogging a priority. I’m hoping that by telling myself that I’m taking a break, I won’t say to myself (16 times a day), “Oh, I could blog about that.” And I won’t be asking my husband, “Oh, could you get some pictures of that.” In other words, taking a break is intended to remove blogging (which I really enjoy) from the forefront of my thoughts as I figure out how it fits into my life during the normal schedule.

To help with my blogging withdrawal, I will spend some time doing some sewing on the quilt top for the summer mystery quilt challenge. Hopefully, I can begin to do some regular drawing practice. Or at least, alternate it with Zentangle. But my main focus is to create a schedule for the coming academic year that provides a balance between what must be done and what I want to do.  Such a schedule may be too big a project for a week, but I will see how far I can get, while knocking off a few things on the project to-do list.

I have a couple of blogging “questions” that you can help me with, if you are so inclined. First, I would be interested in how other people organize the reading of and commenting on other blogs. Do you have a system that you would care to share? Some of you seem to get around much more than I do, even when I spend some dedicated time on it. So any suggestions would be welcome.

When I come back (probably on September 4th or 5th), I hope to have a blog plan. The free-flowing thing I’ve been doing may become more structured. It may not. If you have any preferences about which of my posts you enjoy reading the most, I would be delighted if you would let me know in the comment section. You can choose as many as you wish. I’ve listed a few that you can refer to by number (see purple list below). Or if you have other ideas, that’s fine too. This is also a good place to ask questions if you have any curiosities about me. Although, I’m sure that’s not very likely. Right?  😉

1. Responses to challenges where you learn random things about me?
2. Posts about Life in Taiwan?
3. More about my family and the experiences that got me here?
4. Quilting and creativity?
5. The eclectic mix that I currently do?
6. A decluttering challenge.

OK, thanks for all your support. Your comments will help me as I figure out my blog plan.

I’ll see you in about a week!  🙂

261 days til 60!

600 Days to 60: An Update

Image courtesy of fotographic1980 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of fotographic1980 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Several months ago, I began keeping track of how many days it would be until by 60th birthday. I wanted a way to really pay attention to my life–my goals, my intentions, what I wanted in the big picture. I see 60 as a big milestone, and I wanted to use the time leading up to it to accomplish things that could be celebrated at my 60th birthday party. Yes, I’m planning a party.  🙂

 

It was back on September 25, 2013 that I posted my first mention of 600 Days to 60. Here are a few excerpts from that post.

Several months back, I discovered a blog, 400 Days to 40. Even though I found the blog rather late in her 400 days, it got me to thinking that I might like to try something similar for my next milestone. So I calculated (and recalculated) to find the magical day on which I would launch my new blog, 600 days to 60.

In the end, I decided not to launch a new blog. After several months of maintaining a pretty good schedule with Container Chronicles, I started posting less and less. By September, (when it was time to launch), there was no reason to start a new blog, but just incorporate the idea into my current blog. Back to the original post:

I’ve decided that I’m not looking at this 600 days to 60 as a count-down, but rather a count-up! I want to think of these next 600 days as a journey to find the best version of me there is to find. It will be a process of excavation and checking the foundation, and finding new ways to create and decorate. It will be a time of new keywords and of intentions that challenge and revitalize me. A time of decluttering, revisioning, and finding clarity. My intention is that this journey allows me to find what is important and discard the rest as I move forward toward a life full of vibrant possibility.

Well, parts of that have gone ok, but there is a long way to go. I want to refocus my attention on the original hopes I had for such a project. Over the next few days, I am going to review the posts that highlight the tracking I have done. And reconsider and restate the specific activities that I want to participate in during the remaining days until the celebration. 

The moment is now. 600 days to 60!

It may not be as poetic, but the moment again is NOW!

281 days to 60!

 

 

Farther to Go!: AtoZ April Challenge

a-zchallengeI have known for a couple of weeks now that my post for the letter F would be about Farther to Go! The “brainchild” of Joycelyn Campbell, the big idea of Farther to Go! is that we can “learn how to use our brains instead of our brains using us.” She has developed a variety of materials, techniques, and courses that combine the best of what neuroscience has to offer about habits, consciousness, and creativity. It is impossible for me to do it justice in one blog post. It’s really important to check it out for yourself at her website: http://farthertogo.com.

I thought that maybe the best way to give you an idea of what is possible with Farther to Go! is to just make a (partial) list of how Joycelyn’s synthesis of neuroscience, habit, and story is changing my life. In no particular order, I offer my list: Ten ways that Farther to Go! has changed my life.

 

  1. I now view interruptions in a different way. I don’t let them hijack me emotionally. Rather, I see them as opportunities to renew my focus.
  2.  I look at my depression differently. I have learned to THINK about it differently, and that’s made a world of difference.
  3. Related to #2: After more than twenty years on anti-depressants and several unsuccessful attempts to taper off of them, I am now medication free. (If this were the only benefit of Farther to Go!, I’d be sold, but it’s only the beginning.)
  4. I intentionally develop habits that allow me to free up the conscious part of my brain for more important tasks.
  5. For the first time in my life, I am maintaining an exercise program that works for me. I’ve learned a technique from Farther to Go!, involving IAP (Intention, Attention, and Perseverance), and it has made a huge difference in my life.
  6. I have learned that I have a story about everything in my life. It’s normal. We’re wired for story. Knowing about how the brain constructs stories helps me see my life differently.
  7. I’ve learned it’s possible to create my stories instead of just letting stories happen to me.
  8. I have rediscovered the part of me that can make things happen. She is now the protagonist of the stories I will write create that will lead me to the life I want.
  9. I have an opening scene for a story in which the protagonist (the part of me that can make things happen) is poised for action to get what she wants.
  10. I now view life from a “get better” rather than a “good” mindset. With that mindset, I can try anything, because I don’t have to be good at it, I just have to be willing to get better.

Don’t get me wrong. I have a lot farther to go, but the changes I see in my life keep me going in the midst of setbacks and frustration. Stay tuned to find out what my newly resurrected protagonist takes on in her upcoming adventures. Almost anything is possible when I start using my brain, instead of letting it use me.

Stirring up some February Motivation

Image courtesy of nuttakit / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of nuttakit / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

OK, the month of January has been a real slog for me. It’s not that I haven’t gotten anything done. I have, and some people might even say it was a lot. But I’m not going to make a list. I’m not looking for people to reassure me that I’ve done enough. I’m not looking for someone to tell me it’s ok that I didn’t do as much as usual, that it’s enough, etc. I’m not hoping for someone to make me feel better about it or for some kind of cop-out. I’m simply acknowledging that January was less than I wanted it to be, and that I want February to be different.

I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions, but I did put together some preliminary notes about a few activities I want to experience in 2014. I just didn’t write the post yet. And here it is February.

So while there were things I wanted to do in January, I often sidestepped those items and took the easy way out. One of the things I did when my motivation was low was to clear out some of my blog comments and similar things in my email. Just this morning, I ran across a post from the first of November, New Month Resolutions. Randee talked about how posting every day in October had been easier than she expected it to be and that it might work to set up a goal or two for the new month. Well, she set up three. And in the comments, Yours Truly also commented that she had launched three activities for November (and December). Here is what I wrote at the time.

  1. I joined a quilt-along to FINALLY work on the quilt I’ve been “thinking” about for my daughter for the last six years.

  2. I joined Curves to start working out 3 times a week, and

  3. I made an intention to finish the work on one of my textbook projects this month.

I knew I had written three things in the comment section of that post, but when I opened the post this morning, I didn’t remember what the three things were or if I had actually followed through. So imagine my surprise when I discovered that I had significant progress on these three items.

  • the quilt top for my daughter’s quilt is nearly finished (upcoming post will have pictures)

  • I am in my third month of Curves, and have accomplished 3 times a week most of the time (a record far better than  any other attempt at regular exercise EVER.

  • One textbook went to press, and I made some progress on the next one.

WOW!

So I thought to myself, “It’s February 1. Set some new intentions! Put them out there. It’s a short month. Don’t worry if they’re ‘the best’ ones. Just get something going! Get the wheels turning! Stock up on exclamation points.”

So here goes! While there are many things that have deadlines and will occur naturally, these are the three things I will focus on in February

  1. De-clutter my work area, and begin work on my closet.

  2. Set an intention to do regular writing and follow through with it.

  3. Continue to make progress on my quilting projects.

It’s too early to tell if this will jump-start my motivation, but I have a focus now instead of just having all those to-do things bumping around in my head. Now I can settle down and put the others aside as I start my new plan: Focus for February!

471 days to 60

I am also posting this for FanFoFeb. You can check it out here:  http://willowdot21.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/fanfofeb-the-lovers/

A Coffee Date with Plate Spinner: Our Follow-up Conversation

This is Part 2 of an inner dialogue between me and Plate Spinner, the part of me that can’t seem to stop doing all the time. If you missed Part I of this “conversation,” you can find it here.

________________________________

platesME:  Would you like a cup of coffee?

P.S.: I’d love one! I can’t remember the last time I could take a break and just relax for a few minutes. Nice choice of music by the way.

ME: Thanks! I’ve been thinking a lot about what you said yesterday, and I realize things need to change.

P.S. I’d like to jump up and down for joy, but I can’t. First, I don’t really have the energy with all the spinning I’ve been doing. And second, forgive me, but I’m just a tad cynical about you changing your ways.

ME: I know I don’t have a good track record. But I really do get it. I can prove it. I totally resisted an interesting plate earlier today.

P.S.: Yeah, but that’s nothing compared to the moratorium you took on last year, and that only lasted a few months before you started collecting plates again. Granted, some of them were smaller plates, but they still require lots of attention to keep them spinning.

ME:  OK, you’re right. Just a minute while I link the moratorium stuff here. Some of the people listening to our conversation won’t know what we’re talking about.

P.S.: I’m sure they will be as amused by it as I was.

ME: Oh, come on! Seriously, I want to make things better between us. But your attitude is getting in the way.

P.S.: All I know is that we are currently on semester break, and we can’t take a real break. We have so many plates still spinning that we have to fill these days with to-do lists and projects. I mean, look what it took just to get your attention so that we can have a cup of coffee and talk about this stuff.

ME: But if you’re going to argue with every idea I have, how can anything get better. I really want to change.

P.S.:  OK, I’ll play along for a moment. How is this time going to be any different from all the other times you said you would change? Are you going to retire a few of these plates?

ME: I think I could make a plan for that.

P.S.: Oh, great! Isn’t THAT encouraging? When you make plans for something, the plan itself becomes another plate to spin. Do you even know how many plates you have in the rotation?

ME: Of course . . . . not. Ok, ok, you make another valid point. But I realized something else this morning. As I was explaining my decision to Avis this morning not to take her up on the quilting thing, I told her that one of my big problems is that I think things will only take a few minutes, and that I can manage that . . . . .

P.S.: You mean that you figure I can manage another one of your shiny plates.

ME:  Well, yeah, . . . .  when you put it that way. And then of course, it finally dawned on me, that those few minutes multiplied by the number of plates and projects just makes things impossibly tiring!

P.S.: I’d like to believe you’ve seen the light, but you can’t blame me if I’m still a little skeptical. Do you realize that if we were just going to store these plates–never mind spinning them, we would need more cabinets than will fit into this apartment?

ME: OUCH! Don’t you think that’s a slight exaggeration?

P.S.: Sorry, truth hurts!

ME: OK, so a moratorium must be re-established and maintained. That’s obvious.

P.S.: It might be a step in the right direction, but it’s certainly not enough to make a real difference in the here and now.

ME: Well, you don’t want me to just sort and reorganize. You yourself said that would just be another project added to the huge pile we already had–the pile that I just accumulated without really thinking about the consequences.

P.S.: Look at it this way. I’m willing to accept as a starting premise that most of the plates need to be brought to completion. And I will also–for the moment–attempt to believe you won’t add any new ones.

ME:  I hear a “but . . .”

P.S.: I demand better working conditions! Have you looked around? It’s a disaster area around here. All of these plates have paperwork and paraphernalia attached to them. It’s a miracle I haven’t broken my neck!

ME: Well, I can’t argue with that. I find myself overwhelmed by all the clutter around here. I sometimes gather up the stuff I need for a project or two and head for the coffee shop just to have space to think and work.

P.S.: But that’s my point. YOU can leave! I can’t! It would take a moving van and a crew of at least four for me to go anywhere and still keep all of this going.

ME: Yes, the stuff has to go. That is clear. I don’t really need it all. Even with all of these crazy plates, there is still stuff here that has nothing to do with the plates that need to be finished. And I have to be honest. If stuff doesn’t go with any of the over-abundance of plates, it doesn’t belong.

P.S.: Right, and don’t forget. You’re planning to leave this place in 18 months. Couldn’t we have some breathing space while we wind down this spinning production?

ME: You’re totally right. Time to tackle this de-cluttering thing, once and for all!

P.S.: I know it’s a major change for you, but we can’t simply have all of this stuff. We can’t continue to DO all of this stuff.

ME: Well, why don’t I make an intention to de-clutter the apartment?

P.S.: I’d be more inclined to believe it if you make an intention card.*

ME:  You’re on! Let’s do this!

P.S.: OK, so what do you want?

ME: It seems pretty obvious. I want . . . we want more time and space in this life we share.

P.S.: And why do you want it?

ME: To get you off my back, of course!

P.S.: Very funny! Somehow, I don’t think that will motivate you in the long run. If you’re serious, you need to figure out what the payoff will be when this place is de-cluttered. What will you get?

ME: Well, just thinking about the place being de-cluttered helped me feel relaxed a bit. I don’t feel as stressed or as trapped. If I focus my attention on this intention and persevere in spite of the obstacles, I can enjoy life more. I can enjoy people more. I can be more, instead of simply doing more. I can discover what it is I really want from life, rather than spending all our energy on this plate spinning thing. The idea of not having to spend all of our energy just treading water is very freeing.

P.S.: OK, it seems like you might really want this. Of course, this is a huge project. So we have to be realistic.

ME:  Right. I need Intention, Attention, and Perseverance. I’m not crazy enough to say that I’ll do the whole apartment in the next two weeks. I want to work on it a bit every day, maybe even twice a day.

P.S.: Right, but don’t set yourself up. Let’s make an intention that is do-able, that gives us breathing space. If you do more than the minimum, that’s fine, but let’s make sure we find a workable minimum an commit to that.

ME:  I know. I just get excited about the possibility of space. But I didn’t get into this mess overnight, it’s not going away overnight or even in several overnights. I’d like to think I can make some strong headway by summer though.

P.S.: OK, let’s start with an hour three times a week.

ME:  OK, that seems reasonable. And I will schedule three times in the calendar right now. I will write it in for Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

P.S.: That sounds good, too. What else can you do to keep your attention on the intention?

ME: I’ll ask Dave to either help me, or to at least check in on me. I could find another person to check in with, too. Maybe even find someone else who is trying to de-clutter. We can check in and keep each other on track.

P.S.: And now, how will you reward yourself when you stay on track? And even more important, what will you do when things get in the way of following through? You need a plan for perseverance because you KNOW something will happen to pull you off track at some point.

ME: Oh yeah, I remember when I started the exercise program. If I hadn’t had a plan for perseverance, I wouldn’t have made it through the first two weeks.

PS: Right! and now you’re already in your third month. So what will you do to keep perseverance going for this intention?

ME: I think I would like to have some quilting time on Sunday for a reward. And if I haven’t met the goal of de-cluttering time for the week, I could do some on Sunday.

P.S.: I think this might just work.

Taiwan 047ME:  I’ll think some more on it, and refine the intention card a bit. And while I’m at it, I’ll write an intention card for restarting the moratorium. I obviously need some attention and perseverance when it comes to that intention as well.

P.S.: Excellent! I feel better already. I’m really glad we had this little chat.

ME:  Haha!  Me, too. I think that might be another way to stay on track. Checking in with you on occasion.

P.S.: Put on the coffee and send the invite! I’ll be there!

________________________________

*For information on making and following through on intentions, see the following:

INTENTION IS POWERFUL:  http://farthertogo.com/2013/07/17/intention-is-powerful/

ATTENTION IS ESSENTIAL http://farthertogo.com/2013/07/19/attention-is-essential/

PERSEVERANCE IS MAGIC:  http://farthertogo.com/2013/07/21/perseverance-is-magic/

Spinning Plates: An Inner Dialogue

Here is the first part of a conversation between me and Plate Spinner, the part of me that tries to manage the multitude of projects and ideas I take on in spite of myself.

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ME:    Hi, Spinner. Thanks for taking the time to chat with me.

P.S.:   No time for chatting. If you want to talk about something significant, make it quick. I’m very busy. No time for small talk.

ME:   Well, I don’t want to intrude. If you don’t want to talk to me . . .

P.S.: Seriously? If I didn’t have all these plates to keep spinning, maybe I could sit down and have a cup of coffee with you, but that’s not the reality.

ME: I see: Why do you spin so much? Do you enjoy it?

P.S. Ha! It’s been a long time since I enjoyed it. It’s become nothing but a burden. It’s not whether or not I like it: it’s what I do.

ME: That’s the problem. You’re always doing.

P.S: Well, if I stop, all of these plates will fall. That wouldn’t be a pretty sight.

ME: Maybe not, but sometimes I get exhausted just watching you. Don’t you ever relax?

P.S.: No time. If it’s relaxation you want, turn it into a project, paint it on a plate. Then we can talk. Well, actually, I can’t really talk much, but I can add it to the other plates.

ME: Sometimes you can be so frustrating. Don’t you want a little time for fun, for friendship, for just exploring new things without it all being so frantic?

P.S.: What are you talking about? What would I do if I wasn’t spinning these plates? More importantly, how would all of these important things get done?

ME: Maybe they’re not as important as you think.

P.S.: Really! Aren’t you the one adding all these plates to the pile?

ME: Hey! I thought I was the one one asking the questions.

P.S.: Just because you keep me too busy for questions most all of the time doesn’t mean I don’t have them.

ME: O.K. I guess that makes sense. I don’t like it, but I can’t really argue with you. There might be some truth to it. I’ll go out on a limb here. Do you want to ask a question?

P.S.: Damn right, I do! But first, I’m going to put all of these plates down for a few minutes. Unless you’re brave enough to tell me to just let go of them all.

ME: I might like to be that brave, but I have to admit, I like most of those plates.

P.S.: No you don’t. I think they’re just a poor substitute for what you really want to be doing. You’re keeping me and yourself busy with all of this stuff. We barely have a moment to think. And besides, this stuff isn’t satisfying to either one of us.

ME: What do you mean? I find a lot of satisfaction in these activities.

P.S.: Excuse me while I laugh hysterically. When is the last time you actually were satisfied with something you were doing? You don’t even give yourself a minute when something is done before you’ve moved on to the next thing, or the next dozen things. I work for you, remember? I can’t stop spinning these plates, because you won’t stop spinning. OK, give me a minute to put all these plates down for a few minutes.

(You can see the process in this video.)

P.S.: There! That feels better. Do you hear that?

ME:  Hear what? I don’t hear anything.

P.S.: Precisely! That’s my point. No whirring from the constant spinning of plates, no frantic footfalls as I run from one pole to another to keep all the plates in the air.

ME: Wow! I guess things really have gotten out of hand.

P.S.: When I came to work for you, I didn’t realize there would be all of this overtime. I didn’t realize that we would be spending so much time in the immediate moment keeping all of this crap in the air so that we’d never have time to work on the bigger dreams. I mean I do like spinning–and juggling for that matter–but you’ve taken all the joy out of it.

ME:  Wow! I’m so sorry. I didn’t realize how miserable I’ve made things for you. What can I do?

P.S.: Well, for starters, you can stop grabbing every new plate that comes along. And then when I do finish with a plate, you could consider just leaving that space open. Give me some breathing space. Give us a chance to step back on occasion and see the big picture.

ME: I hear what you are saying, but sometimes I can’t help myself. The colors, the textures, the patterns, the . . .

P.S.: Cut the crap! One of these days, I’m just going to drop the lot of them! I’ll walk off the job!

ME: Oh, please don’t do that!

P.S.: Why not? What do these plates really represent?

ME: Well, I never really thought about it that way before. But since you ask, I guess they represent me. After all, who am I without all of this activity to define me? Who will notice me if I don’t do all of these things?

P.S.: Really? You’re going to turn this into an identity crisis? Isn’t that a little too convenient?

ME: I’m feeling threatened, insecure. And I’m definitely not sure what to do next. You’re making sense, but I don’t know how to make it better. I don’t know where to start.

P.S.: Oh, I think you do. You didn’t get into this mess overnight, and you’re not going to dig out of it in a day, or even a week, but seriously, I think digging out is right where you need to start.

ME: You’re right. And I need to get intentional about it.

P.S.: Now I’m beginning to feel like you’re listening to me and like there is hope. I really need to get back to all of these plates. But if you’ll back off a bit, maybe we can meet tomorrow and map out this intention thing.

ME: You’ve got it. You’re really good at what you do, but I want you to feel like you’re using those skills for better things than just juggling all of my unexamined stuff. We’ll talk tomorrow!

P.S.: Great!  See you then!

(TO BE CONTINUED!)

 

 

Homeward Bound

NewYearsSkyThis past Christmas was my fifth one in Taiwan. I love so many things about Taiwan, particularly my students. But the holidays this year brought out a very reflective side of me.

At Christmas, I thanked many people in my post at the holidays on both sides of the ocean. And while I included my children in those thank you’s, I had written another paragraph that night that I didn’t include in the post.

I have four children, and throughout my time here in Taiwan, technology has helped keep us close in spite of the distance. Doug (the oldest) is the only one who Skypes with me regularly, but Kate (the youngest) and I talk on Facebook almost daily. She and I have a couple of ongoing projects we work on together, and she is the mother of the wonderful Mr. Logan, my nearly three-year-old grandson. She also blogs (http://sincerelykaterz.wordpress.com/), and I can share her life that way. I don’t talk to the middle two sons as often as I’d like, but they both have wives who help me stay in touch. Through Megan’s amazing food blog (http://meggoesnomnom.com/) and Mindy’s Facebook posts, I feel like I am still part of Tom and Erik’s lives. But there are times when even technology can’t bridge the longing for family that seems to intensify during the holiday season.

So as I wrote a few weeks back and thanked my family and friend on both sides of the ocean, here is the paragraph I wrote that I did not send that night.

Thanks to my lovely children for filling my life with wonder and for building lives of your own. As I watch from afar, this Christmas has made me realize that I must find a way to make my way back home to be with you not just for the holidays, but always. I don’t like being this far away from you. In spite of the fact that we can keep in touch, it’s not the same, and my Christmas wish this year, is that there will only be one more Christmas that we celebrate on different sides of the world.

I’m posting this now to let you know that those feelings and a lot of thinking have led me to a decision. I will only return for one more year of teaching in Taiwan. Come summer of 2015, David and I will return to the U.S., to you, our families and to our friends who have stayed in our lives throughout this long separation. Taiwan has been a wonderful place to live for these last few years, but it’s time to go home.

I know that home is where your heart is, and my heart is very much here in Taiwan and will continue to be until I actually pack my things and leave. However, as long as Mr. Logan and my children are not here, I feel that my home is somewhat incomplete. I can never adequately thank all the people who have helped me feel welcome and at home here in Taiwan. But in the next  few months, I plan to feature some of them in a few of my blog posts. In the meantime, I still have time here to be with everyone and to continue my work here. The only thing that has changed is that now I know how long I will be here, and when I will head for my other home.

I want to thank Belinda at http://BusyMindThinking.com for the photo above. She loves to photograph the many faces of the sky. Her pictures are always a delight, but this one grabbed at me in a profound way. The sky and the road, both open, both with no end in sight. I feel like I need to trust this road, that it will lead me home.