February Follies (aka Fast-Forward Fridays)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe best laid plans of mice and men. Except I can’t blame mice or men in this case. I can’t even blame the clutter cats. They’re only mascots, after all. I can only blame myself. For this crazy challenge.

Design your own challenge, I said. Set up your own steps, I said. It’s only four weeks, I said. You can compete with yourself, I said. It will be fun, I said.

OK, enough ranting. 🙂  It’s really not that bad. And I still believe most of those things, except the one about four weeks. There are only two left.

The reality is I fell off the Fast-Forward-Friday express. On the left, you can see one example. Fabric sorting did not happen last week.  In fact, most of my decluttering challenge seemed to have died in the water this week. But have no fear. I have a plan. And I have something else — perseverance.

But one thing I have known since before starting this (rather ambitious) challenge is that no matter how well thought-out plans and ideas are, unexpected events always interrupt the “ideal” plan. But the one thing that I’ve put into practice in the last 18 months that’s helped more than anything is perseverance.

So just like any other plan or project, there were some glitches in this system. In this particular case, I wasn’t expecting two extra doctor appointments this week (with accompanying bus trips). Nor was I expecting to have to adjust what I can do physically. But, that’s life. Things don’t ever always go according to plan. On the good news side, I did make a lot of progress on work-related tasks.

Before I made a practice of perseverance, I would sort of let things go. I would call the challenge a good try, but it “just wasn’t meant to be,” at least not this month. But I’m determined not to give in to that cycle. I can persevere by doing one simple thing: pick up where I left off and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

As you can see in the list below, I have a lot of fancy footwork to do to catch-up, but rather than defeating myself with my attitude, I’m going to see just how much I can catch up. If I don’t make it all the way, I will still be much closer on celebration day (February 28) than I’d be if I gave up now.

So here is the 2nd Friday update (a little late):

List of Daily Tasks
  • (green – on-time completions for week 1;
  • purple – early completions;
  • blue – on-time completions for week 2;
  • red – missed items – scheduled for catch-up)

    Clutter Cats

    Clutter Cats

    • 2 – Middle shelf
    • 3 – Lower Shelf
    • 4 – First Metal Drawer
    • 5 – Second Metal Drawer
    • 6 – Three wood drawers (FRIDAY)
    • 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

By persevering, I can keep my spirits high and just continue on. Getting upset with myself for not keeping up is not productive. That frame of mind would only serve to give me a “reasonable excuse” to explain away my lack of progress. Perseverance helps me to continue on, even though the results may not be exactly what I hoped for. But who knows? Just as setbacks are often the result of when things don’t go according to plan, sometimes unexpected breakthroughs can also come. So I’m going for progress.

I’ve also made some really significant discoveries about myself, but that’s for another post. See you in a few days with another update. Anyone else?

92 days until 60!

 

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

 

 

Rome is Looking a Little Rosier

REPORT FOR LAST WEEK

1. Complete 12 one-hour blocks. The tasks for those blocks include:

  • editing project (2 sections) DONE
  • writing project (draft first unit; make plan for other units) (no real progress on this)
  • start a worksheet for new possibilities DONE
  • schedule the tasks from last weeks list to make a rough schedule for the coming year DONE

2. Go to Curves three times during the week. DONE

3. Maintain walking three times a week. DONE

4. Start piecing possible designs for quilted postcards. Done and did additional sewing as seen here.

5. Continue visiting my fellow builders. I wasn’t as good about this as I had intended.

6. Work on idea for decluttering challenge; continue posting daily; write a post about blogging Turns out that was a type. It was supposed to be a post about the decluttering idea. Regardless, it didn’t happen.

7. Catch up on my unanswered comments. I kept current with new things that came in, but didn’t make much dent on the backlog.

OTHER ACCOMPLISHMENTS:

  • Actually worked on the blog plan. Ready to put it on a calendar.
  • Made mini-lists of tasks for several of my major projects.

 

THIS WEEK’S COMMENTARY

Bradley has another great theme for this week: Finding Neverland!

This week take a break from your hard work and find your inner child. Find your way to Neverland! 😀

Wow, I feel like I’m finally ahead on something. Inspired by the Cartoon Craziness Challenge, I spent some time with my inner child over the weekend. I was so happy with my artwork, which followed closely on the amazing fabric play that is linked to on #4 in my weekly report above.

And I have an outing planned for next Monday, the 18th that involves flying a kite! OK, challenge accepted!

These two posts I refer to show something else. Building Rome is becoming less arduous on the day-to-day level. I don’t mind showing up. I don’t mind actually doing those blocks of time and staying focused for the duration. While the blocks have been helpful, they weren’t working as well as I had hoped for the last few weeks, but in the last few days, there is definitely a shift. My lethargy and lack of interest seem to be passing. I won’t start throwing confetti around yet, but as the title says, things are looking a little rosier for me around Rome.

GOALS FOR WEEK OF AUGUST 11

1. Complete 12 one-hour blocks. The tasks for those blocks include:

  • editing project 1 (2 sections)
  • evaluate new editing project and complete 2 sections (if taken)
  • writing project (map out all sections and start to write SOMETHING)
  • Work on a basic plan for upcoming webpage.

2. Go to Curves three times during the week; walk three times.

3. Sew blocks for Clue 3 of Summer Mystery Quilt

4. Start piecing possible designs for quilted postcards.

5. Continue visiting my fellow builders.

6. Write a post about decluttering; schedule launch.

7. Map out blog plan.

8. Catch up on my 20 unanswered comments. (Maybe if I choose a number instead of looking at it as catching up on all my comments, it will actually seem more doable.)

Good luck to everyone on meeting your goals this week!

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This post is part of the Building Rome Project. http://greenembe.rs/2014/08/11/building-rome-week-33-finding-neverland/

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!

 

 

Where Did I Put That Map of Rome?

Image courtesy of 89studio / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of 89studio / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Building Rome is a mini-challenge hosted by Bradley at Green Embers. Participants set weekly goals, then report in the next week, and cheer each other on along the way. You might want to join in the fun.

As I mentioned last week, I’ve come up with a general format for these reports: (1) Report my progress for the previous week; (2) Provide commentary that explains shifts in progress and understanding and future goals–with the hope it doesn’t bore you to tears; and 3) the goals for the upcoming week. Preparing these posts really gets me focused for the time ahead.

Check out my idea in the COMMENTARY section for a challenge to clear out clutter, and let me know if you might be interested.

REPORT FOR THE PAST WEEKEND

1. Complete 18 12 one-hour blocks. The tasks for those blocks include: (12 one-hour blocks was much more workable)

  • editing project (3 sections) – 2 sections completed
  • writing project (finalize template, begin introductory material) template nearly complete
  • complete a project spreadsheet (PRIORITY) — list completed, incorporate with scheduling for yearly list below (next week)
  • write an abstract draft and other preliminary materials for new research project – exceeded — not only drafted, but revised and submitted
  • make a rough schedule for the coming year — determine which projects are really the priority in order to set appropriate course for return to US — the basic list is completed, scheduling for this week

2. Maintain walking three times this week (in spite of the heat). (I kicked butt here again. I’m leaving it on the list for next week though because I’m adding Curves back to my goals, and want to maintain the walking along with the additional exercise.)

3. Start piecing possible designs for quilted postcards.  — gathered scraps from the scrap bag, pressed them to begin possible sewing

4. Visit more of my fellow builders and comment on their posts.  I felt like this was totally on track this week.  🙂

5. Make a plan for my blog. have done a lot of thinking about this. I’ll be posting about it soon to get feedback from others

6. Catch up on my unanswered comments. –significant progress

ADDITIONAL ITEMS COMPLETED:

  • mended a suit coat for a friend
  • continued posting on blog every day
  • started back to Curves

 

THIS WEEK’S COMMENTARY

Bradley has another great theme for this week: This Week’s Theme: Flying Your Colors!

How’s this for a challenge:  Find something this week that will show the world just how awesome you really are, no matter how freaky you think it is! 😀

So, this week I’ve been thinking a lot about stalling out. Yes, I got things done, and I got quite a few things done, but I’m not always getting the most important things done. I’m not even getting the things that are most fun done. I’m getting the things that require the least emotional investment. There are exceptions, but that’s the observation I’ve made.

But the other part of the observation has to do with clutter. I have too much crap in my life, and it weighs me down in ways I have been denying for too long. So I’m thinking my awesome thing might be to start my own challenge (in a week or two–so I have time to think about it and organize) for a challenge to lighten our loads. If anyone else is out there thinking it’s time to sort through all the stuff in your life, let me know, and I’ll see what I can come up with. The more the merrier.  🙂

 

GOALS FOR THE WEEK of August 4

1. Complete 12 one-hour blocks. The tasks for those blocks include:

  • editing project (2 sections)
  • writing project (draft first unit; make plan for other units)
  • start a worksheet for new possibilities
  • schedule the tasks from last weeks list to make a rough schedule for the coming year

2. Go to Curves three times during the week.

3. Maintain walking three times a week.

4. Start piecing possible designs for quilted postcards.

5. Continue visiting my fellow builders.

6. Work on idea for decluttering challenge; continue posting daily; write a post about blogging idea.

7. Catch up on my unanswered comments.

 

Good luck to everyone on meeting your goals this week!

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This post is part of the Building Rome Project. http://greenembe.rs/2014/08/04/building-rome-week-32-fly-the-flag-of-freak/

An Alternate Route to the Construction Site (Building Rome)

Sm Steve n Menu at DebbiesBuilding Rome is a mini-challenge hosted by Bradley at Green Embers. Participants set weekly goals, then report in the next week, and cheer each other on along the way. You might want to join in the fun.

I’ve come up with a general format for these: (1) Report my progress for the previous week; (2) Provide commentary that explains shifts in progress and understanding and future goals–with the hope it doesn’t bore you to tears; and 3) the goals for the upcoming week. Then, me being me, I added a final note at the end.  It seems to work. Preparing these posts really gets me focused for the time ahead.

REPORT FOR THE PAST WEEKEND

 

1. Complete 18 one-hour blocks. The tasks for those blocks include:  Only completed about 6 blocks during the week.

  • editing project (3 sections) — COMPLETED
  • writing project (finalize template, begin introductory material) MINOR PROGRESS (need more)
  • complete a project spreadsheet (PRIORITY) NO
  • preparing for fall classes — type notes for two lessons NO
  • Writing 201 — read post, choose piece for revision, and spend at least 2 hours on said revision  NO

2. Maintain walking three times this week (in spite of the heat).  DID THIS FIVE TIMES

3. Start piecing possible designs for quilted postcards. NO

4. Visit more of my fellow builders and comment on their posts. I visited everyone. I left some comments.

5. Make a plan for my blog. I gave some serious thought to this and have a general idea. Will pursue it more this week. However, extra points for posting every day last week!

6. Catch up on my unanswered comments. Made some progress. Need more.

THIS WEEK’S COMMENTARY

I love Bradley’s theme for this week: SETBACKS ARE NOT ROADBLOCKS! Truer words were never spoken. It’s so easy to use setbacks as an excuse to stop moving forward. As some of you know, I didn’t have a great week, and it shows in my unfinished business above. But I am gradually becoming more and more like my normal self, and I expect this week to be better. In addition, I’m still pleased with the fact that I still made some progress in many areas. Plus, I did something that wasn’t on the list. I read a book! I can’t tell you the last time I read a book just for the enjoyment of reading. So that’s a bonus. I think it’s something we should remember in our reports–that sometimes things we didn’t think of when we were planning come up. If we take care of those things, or if we accomplish something that wasn’t on the list, it’s still an accomplishment. So it’s good to report the extras too.  🙂 

For example, I had three! unexpected social events this week. In other words, none of them were planned when I set my plan for the week. They were real opportunities — and with my current moods, it really made sense to embrace the opportunities rather than stay holed up at home trying to meet goals for the sake of goals, while ignoring relationships. So on Friday, I went to the ceramic museum with two friends. On Saturday, we attended a good-bye dinner for my colleague, Steve. (That’s Steve in the thumbnail above.) That evening, another colleague came to spend the night, and we spent Sunday morning together, before she headed back to Taipei. Those three events may have done more to help my spirits start returning to a normal level than any amount of work I might have gotten done.

My last bit of news has to do with a couple of meetings today that have the potential to change my life dramatically. This is particularly significant in light of the fact that I’m planning to return to the US in a year or so. The meetings have helped me think of alternative ways of meeting my objectives. I have a new perspective on a couple of things, and I have someone who wants to collaborate with me on a new research project. Doing something with a collaborator is going to be an added impetus to get it done.

So there are some adjustments to my to-do list for this week. Some things that didn’t happen last week will indeed carry through, but I’m going to step back a bit and do some longer range planning so that my goals in future weeks are more in line with this new perspective.

 

GOALS FOR THE WEEK of July 28)

1. Complete 18 12 one-hour blocks. The tasks for those blocks include:

  • editing project (3 sections)
  • writing project (finalize template, begin introductory material)
  • complete a project spreadsheet (PRIORITY)
  • write an abstract draft and other preliminary materials for new research project
  • make a rough schedule for the coming year — determine which projects are really the priority in order to set appropriate course for return to US

2. Maintain walking three times this week (in spite of the heat).

3. Start piecing possible designs for quilted postcards.

4. Visit more of my fellow builders and comment on their posts.

5. Make a plan for my blog.

6. Catch up on my unanswered comments.

As I made the new list, I realized not that much really changes. I cut down the number of one-hour blocks, and make them more focused to leave other time for the other things that I want to pursue (quilting, blogging, and decluttering). It turns out the non-work items (#2-6) really don’t change much at all. I’m just focusing the “work” time differently. It will be interesting to see what next week’s goals look like after I spend some time this week looking at the big picture.

Good luck to everyone on meeting your goals this week!

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This post is part of the Building Rome Project. http://greenembe.rs/2014/07/28/building-rome-week-31-setbacks-are-not-roadblocks/

TIME TO GET AWAY: Stream of Consciousness Saturday, July 13

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhere to begin! The prompt was to take off with either “getting away” or “getting out.” They both have such interesting connotations for me.

I so want to get away from everything. I need a vacation, but I need to focus on the catching up that I’m doing. I need to get out of this funk I’ve been in for a while now.

I need to get out of bunches of deadlines I took on when life looked so much brighter. Sometimes, I see far too many possibilities, and then the hard reality sets in. Of course, it would be nice if I could simply get out of some of the deadlines. If I could go back and renegotiate my involvement. But alas, the things I most want to get out of not that easily set aside. I do have a plan, but I still have to work that plan before I can see my way out.

But it isn’t hopeless. And in the meantime, maybe I can get away for a few days somewhere in the next few weeks. And in the meantime, I’m using coffee breaks to get away. In addition to my morning coffee at home, I get out at least 3-4 times a week for coffee. The walk to the coffee shop gives me some exercise — in both directions. While there, I am able to hyper focus on whatever projects I bring along. The getting away from my computer desk does magic for my productivity.

In spite of this talk of getting away and getting out, I’m also drifting to thoughts of getting into things that refresh me. The purpose of getting out is to build up my passion, my motivation to do the things that are often hampered by the crazy deadlines and ill-considered projects. With a plan to get away from those things, I can get into my writing and my quilting. I know I’ve written about these creative endeavors before, but the fact that they keep returning is something I need to listen to.  I need to learn to advocate for my creative voice. And that’s definitely something I want to get into.

 

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This post is part of SoCS: http://lindaghill.wordpress.com/2014/07/11/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-july-1214/

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.

What a Difference the Sun Makes

Photo credit: nuchylee at freedigitalphotos.net

Photo credit: nuchylee at freedigitalphotos.net

I am not one to make a big deal about the weather. It comes and goes, and except for when it’s really cold (or really hot), I don’t say much about it. Well until this year. This is my fifth winter in Taiwan, and while I have nothing on my friends and family back in the States in terms of weather to complain about, I have not been happy about the rain rain rain rain rain rain.

Central heat is not common in most apartments (or at the university where I teach), so when our cold spell stretched on and on this year, coupled with the rain rain rain rain rain, I thought I might go a little mad. Still the calendar said it would eventually pass, and it wouldn’t be long before I could trade my complaining for the hot, HUMID days that lie ahead. But in the meantime, I was getting a little tired of wearing fingerless gloves while I typed, and wearing three layers of clothing while huddled near the heater. But that wasn’t the only problem. The long, wet spell created another problem–laundry.

In our apartment, we have a washing machine, but no clothes dryer. No problem! We hang our clothes out on the balcony, as is the norm around here (at least for those without a clothes dryer). To give you an idea, we just had such a long spell where Dave was unable to hang out laundry that he almost broke down and carried it the two blocks for a coin operated dryer.

But what’s really been bothering me the last few weeks is that whenever I take the bus to go downtown for my exercise routine at Curves, I’ve had to deal with the wet weather. The cold I can “usually” handle, but I was getting so sick of the rain. You’ll understand more when I start posting what sidewalks in Taiwan are like. Today, after a day of classes and office hours, I headed to Curves. I planned to catch the shuttle and walk the five blocks from the train station downtown to Curves. I’ve done it several times. In the rain.

But today, I ended up on the wrong bus. (An occupational hazard of not reading Chinese.) To be fair to me though, the bus I got on was in the same place where I’ve caught the right bus several other times. But no matter. The one I ended up on was going to the train station in Taipei not Taoyuan. Luckily, I found out before we left the university premises, and the driver let me off.

I caught a local bus and settled in. Then I noticed that although it was 5:00 in the afternoon, the sun was still shining. Wait! The sun was shining! Actually, I remembered noticing the sun at 8:00 this morning, when I walked into my classroom. I’d sort of forgotten what it was like to teach with the sun out. The sun changed everything today! It was brighter even sitting in my office this afternoon. So when the local bus dropped me off at the stop closer to Curves, I walked there without having to worry about slipping on wet surfaces, or dodging raindrops, or wrestling with an umbrella. And because it had been a week since I’d been downtown at that time, it wasn’t gloomy. It wasn’t even dusk. We’ve turned a corner. When I get downtown late Monday afternoon, it will be brighter. Even if it rains–heaven forbid–at least it won’t be dusk on top of it.

What a difference a week makes. Even with a few glitches in my day, the difference between tonight and last Monday is amazing. Even my workout was much more pleasant as a result. Bring on the sun!