de-stressing, micromovements, SARK

Micromovements

c. flickr.com

 

I am not the tidiest of homemakers. In fact, I’m sure Adrian Monk would have one of his attacks if he ever entered my cluttered apartment. Funny story, one day the police came to my apartment [I’ll save those details for another post]. At the sight of my crammed living room, the officer asked me if I did arts and crafts. No, I just can’t throw anything out.

It has only been recently that I have realized or been wiling to admit that the disorganized clutter stresses me out, & contributes to my general angst. So it’s time to take action. Will I ever be Nancy Neatnik? I’m afraid not. But I can take small steps to gradually organize.
The artist, writer & genius Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy, aka, SARK speaks highly of what she calls micromovements. While you may not be able to completely tackle a major task, you are almost always capable of taking baby steps toward your goal, thus making larger steps easier.
“Micromovements,” she says,  “are tiny, tiny little steps you can take towards completions of your life. I’m a recovering procrastinator and perfectionist and I have a short attention span, so I invented Micromovements as a method of completing projects in time spans of 5 minutes or less. I always feel like I can handle almost anything for 5 minutes!”

Check out more about micromovements from SARK  .
So I spent the weekend doing itsy bitsy steps towards organization and serenity. The tedious, heartwrenching process of parting with cool posters, projects, outfits I loved that no longer fit, but held onto for sentimental value; or who knows, maybe someday purple parachute pants will come back. Even if they did, I wouldn’t be able to fit into them.

Granted I still have a long way to go, but I already feel 100 pounds lighter. The good thing about this is that often the completion of one step inspires another. I started out by cleaning off my desk; a bear of a project, that once I completed, I couldn’t very well have an untidy couch now could I?

I am finding firsthand that a decluttered living space leads to a decluttered mind.

c.2011

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Savor your way to success

flickr.com

“The pleasure of doing a thing in the same way at the same time every day, and savoring it, should be noted.”
— Arnold Bennett

So I was house sitting for my parents one weekend. I was sitting at their desk, stressing about my big writing project that was due in a few days. I was tweaking my resume, as well as doing a hard hitting writing sample for this corporation.

I tapped one bad idea after another on my dad’s Dell laptop. He constantly raves about this computer. I was a blur of keys, characters, and image uploads, that I didn’t fully realize my appreciation for the fast multi-core processing as well as the amount of storage space until after I had completed the final product, several hours later.

Amidst all of this, my parents call me about a crisis they were having in St. Louis. So I had to make a few calls, and deal with this new situation now as well as my assignment.

Early on in the project phase, I discovered there was no sense in wigging out. That was not going to help the creative process in any way. I needed to remain calm and relaxed. I needed to not let the hectic environment dictate my pace. I needed to stay focused, remain in control and work at a manageable pace.

My dad’s Dell laptop was able to help me accommodate just that. The fast startup was able to keep up with my ideas, the intuitive nature of the software was able to keep up with my unfamiliarity of the machine.

So often, when we are involved in a project, we feel we must be constantly moving. Scampering from one potential catastrophe to the next. But spinning our wheels in idle not only takes energy, it distracts us from details. Instead, [and I love this word], we should savor each experience; even the humdrum ones. If we at least act like we are savoring our tedium, it will make a difference in how we feel about it.

I made a conscious effort to take a deep breath and keep my head about me, even if it meant working slower and more deliberate, savoring each moment. I actually modeled myself after our waitress, Sam, who is able to handle the crowd at the Scottish bar we go to with aplomb. When she is juggling a million different things and I throw in one more, I watch her stop, even if only for a millisecond, take note, and consider. As a result she is much more effective than I could ever hope to be when I am constantly in flight mode.

I decided to be a little more mindful, instead of reactionary. I savored each moment, giving each my full attention. I got a lot more done.  I was able to respond to interruptions, rather than react to them.

I helped my parents out, I finished my project, nonplussed. Now I am savoring my new Lumisource Fiber optic desklamp from become.com , which is the coolest thing ever!

c. 2011

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Take a bath

c. http://twistedphysics

Have you ever been working hours, maybe days, on a large project only to come to distractions, dead ends, and non sequiturs?

Often it is best to take a break.

“Take a break,” you say “the project is due in an hour!”

Sometimes distance from a project is just what we need. Refocusing your energies on something different, even for a moment, can give you a fresh perspective when you return to the task at hand. There are many success stories I could point to, including many of my own. However, the funniest one I think is the anecdote of Archimedes.

Archimedes was given the daunting task of figuring out if the crown that had been made for King Hiero II was pure gold or if the goldsmith put silver in it. He had to essentially break down the crown without causing any damage to it. Oh, yeah, under the threat of death if he failed.

Try to imagine the weight of Archimedes stress. I’m sure he racked his brain, performing all sorts of mathematical equations and experiments, for hours, until his mind was a blur of numbers and symbols.

Then, the answer came to him, not at a desk, but while he was in the bathtub. The story goes, that while in the bath, he noticed that the water level rose as he got in.

He figured that the submerged crown would displace an amount of water equal to its own volume. By dividing the mass of the crown by the volume of water displaced, he could find the density of the crown. He knew that the density would be lower than that of gold if cheaper and less dense metals had been added.

Well, he was so excited at this epiphany, that he completely forgot about putting clothes on, he ran out on the streets of Syracuse, shouting,

“Eureka! I’ve found it!”

When he performed the experiment, he found that the swindler goldsmith had mixed it with silver.

Next time you need a “eureka” moment, try taking a step back, or a bath.

c. 2011

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Upshifting

freefoto.com

My friend Jenna provided me of a first-hand glimpse of something so rare that I had to share with you. She was having a particularly stressful day. Deadlines were due, rent was already late. Amidst treacherous, gnarly traffic [not in the surfing,  cool sense], someone cut her off. When she hit the horn, an attempt to blare the person away,  it made no sound. The more she tried to honk, the more deafening its silence.
Why won’t you work? I just had you in the shop yesterday! This is your only job, is it too much to expect you to do it?

The stress from the lack of sound cut so deep inside Jenna, it bared insecurities she may have been unaware of. The lighthearted conversation she had been having with her friend, Sabrina, the unlucky passenger at this point, had taken a malicious turn.

An acquaintance of theirs had come up in idle chatter. Jenna took this opportunity to disparage her to no end.

The friend was causing stress in another area if Jenna’s life, so it only seemed appropriate to mesh this stress with that stress, and blame one person.

For 5 minutes straight, most of what came out of her mouth are words I can’t print here. She reacted with her brainstem, or reptilian brain.

Then all of a sudden, her higher brain functions kicked in amidst the stress. She began to consider. She realized that her venting on her co-worker was neither productive, nor rational, so she stopped.

So few people have such an experience where they can step outside themselves and watch the upshifting experience.

With Jenna’s situation still fresh in my mind, I was able to do some upshifting of my own a few weeks ago. I was in a bit cranky and feeling very little of the Christmas spirit, but I was able to catch myself before I got in too wretched a mood. It definitely required conscious thought, but I was able to do it fairly successfully for my first time. I’m not going to promise anything for the next time, but hopefully my recent success will inspire yet another one.

c. 2011

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Interview with Barista Extraordinaire, Chanel Harden

Chanel

I wanted to do an interview with my co-worker, Chanel. I have always admired and envied her calm, cool, and collectedness. She always has her wits about her. Let me tell you, Chanel is the person you want to work with if you don’t want to worry about things getting done. She not only rolls with the punches, she thrives in such situations.

I asked her if she had any secrets. To which she said, “As long as I’m doing my job correctly, I don’t worry.”

That is precisely the key, KNOWING what to do, and more importantly, following through. Too often I allow the work atmosphere to dictate my job. [I was just too busy to restock those milks for the next person.]  She realizes that the work environment doesn’t change her responsibilities. A busy store doesn’t negate the need for restocking or tidying. She remains consistent through the ups and downs of a shift.

One needs no more proof that this secret works, than to watch Chanel in action. She maintains cool control throughout the craziest of shifts, as well as customers. She deals well with fellow employees as well. Working is second nature to Chanel, and as is often the case, she works with employees who often have to be prodded to do their jobs. [I am as guilty of this as anyone else]. She deals with us gracefully.

When I asked her how she does this so well. She says, “You can’t give up on someone. You guide them as much as you can, but that’s all you can do.”

One key to her performance is she makes a priority to be informed, of company happenings.  I’ve seen her go the extra mile to read up on new store policies and products, so she’s always in the know. Chanel has a good understanding of her capabilities, as well as her job.

One of her Chanel-isms is to say, “Take a deep breath, think it through, and go to your happy place.”

You know, I gave her advice half a chance today, and it worked!!

c. 2011

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