Delusional

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Self-awareness is such a rare commodity.

I like to think that I am just a little out of shape. This morning, I decided to take a spin on my bike and soon learned how badly I have been fooling myself.

Mind you, I have the old-fashioned kind of bike. No gears or hand brakes for me. Still, I live in Florida, so my route is flat. Piece of cake, right?

First I had to pump up the tires since it has been so long since I rode it. Then I set out wobbling down the block, pedaling slowly.

I lasted about ten minutes before I had to head for home. My legs were all but shaking. Yikes!

Now, according to Web MD, short bouts of exercise, like. for example, ten minutes here and there, are effective. Let’s hope so.

 

 

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The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up book review

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Now that I have read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I see why it became a best seller. She spells out very specifically just what to do to rid yourself of clutter. Forever. I really believe I desperately want that, but I also confess that there is no way I would be willing to follow her directions, excellent though they are. My guess is most of the 2 million people who bought the book won’t take her advice either. Her clients who have used her methods, however, have thrown or given away an average of 20 to 30 45-liter bags of “stuff.”

I used to pay attention to feng shui once upon a time, and some of what Kondo recommends hearkens back to those theories. It is not enough to look at items of clothing hanging in your closet or books on shelves. You have to spread them out and touch them to absorb whether or not they give you sufficient joy to make them worth keeping. And that means all of them. Yes, every single piece of clothing you own spread over the floor. Every book.

On the other hand, much of what she says is intensely practical. You really don’t need to keep all those operating manuals. Nobody ever reads them, and even if you did, you’d be better off talking to a person at the store where you bought the appliance when a problem arises.

One big takeaway is to keep storage as simple as possible. No putting off season items in a covered bin. That’s how we accumulate so much stuff. Complicated storage lets us forget what or how much we have. Store all similar items together, not spread all over the house, for the same reason. Her categories are clothes, books, documents, miscellaneous, and mementos. Or you can divide by similarities in materials: cloth-like, paper-like, or electrical. Store all items for one person together if possible. Everything should have an assigned spot.

One piece of advice I have already implemented is to store purses inside each other with the straps hanging out so you remember what is where. It does help them hold their shape. It remains to be seen if I will have trouble finding what I want when the time comes.

Kondo’s approach may seem woo-woo to some although I found it charming. For example, every day when she gets home from work she thanks her home for sheltering her. She treats the items she keeps with respect and thanks them for their service to her.

Kondo says human beings can only cherish a limited amount of things at a time. Through the process of paring down to only the items you love, you may remember things about yourself you had forgotten and have a better idea of who you truly are. You are content and your mind is free to pursue your purpose.

Magic.

 

Designate a place for each thing
This is the routine I follow every day when I return from work. First, I unlock the door and announce to my house, “I’m home!” Picking up the pair of shoes I wore yesterday and left out in the entranceway, I say, “Thank you very much for your hard work,” and put them away in the shoe cupboard. Then I take off the shoes I wore today and place them neatly in the entranceway.Heading to the kitchen, I put the kettle on and go to my bedroom. There I lay my handbag gently on the softsheepskin rug and take off my outdoor clothes. I putmy jacket and dress on a hanger, say “Good job!” and hang them temporarily from the closet doorknob. I put my tights in a laundry basket that fits into the bottom right corner of my closet, open a drawer, select the clothes I feel like wearing inside, and get dressed. I greet the waist-high potted plant by the window and stroke its leaves.My next task is to empty the contents of my handbag on the rug and put each item away in its place. First I remove all the receipts. Then I put my purse in its designated box in a drawer under my bed with a word of gratitude. I place my train pass and my business card holder beside it. I put my wristwatch in a pink antique case in the same drawer and place my necklace and earrings on the accessory tray beside it. Before closing the drawer, I say, “Thanks for all you did for me today.”

 

Mind over matter

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Caroline Greene started early in life to be an overachiever.  In eighth grade she won all the academic awards. Then she headed off to Philips Exeter academy, followed by Yale and law school.

Ten years later, she had a husband and kids. But the career she expected to have instead materialized for her husband, not her. She had become a stay-at-home-mom while her husband became a partner in his law firm. She felt like she no longer mattered.

In her book Matter: How to Find Meaningful Work That’s Right for You and Your Family (The Well-Educated Mom’s Guide Book 1) , Greene walks us through the process of how to find meaningful work while remaining present for one’s family.

First came a grieving process as she looked at where she was in all aspects of her life compared to where she thought she’d be. I can really relate to this. I’m going through a compare and contrast process for the second time in my life right now.

Greene next talks about the need to seek validation from others versus the ability to self-validate.  This one rings all too true with me too.  She started by nurturing herself in four areas: rest, nourishment, movement, and touch. She started paying attention and feeling her emotions. bad and good.

Greene’s chapter Get Connected was another that resonated with me. Going it alone means being isolated from others. Greene realized she needed three kinds of friends. What she calls mommy friends are those who are in the same stage of life as you are. Professional friends share your educational or career background. Soul friends are the people with whom you just “click.” I had never thought of friendship in these terms, but they make a lot of sense.  I might add one more category, those with whom you grew up, who share your history, or who knew you when.

Building relationships, she says, requires the ability to accept help.

Of course, obstacles arise. Two of these are guilt and shame. Greene defines guilt as feeling you did something bad while shame is feeling you are a bad person. But loving others doesn’t mean we have to put everyone’s needs ahead of our own. That’s not love; it’s martyrdom.

Only after all this introspection should you begin to list the characteristics of your ideal job. Focus on how you want to feel. Then start exploring possibilities. Be willing to make mistakes and to ask for help.

In the end, it is the work of being more of who we really are that matters.

Did I Do My Best?

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I am one of those people who make the resolution to lose weight each and every New Year’s Day. And yet I’m still carrying those unwanted pounds. Thus, I read books on motivation in the hope that one day I will find it in me to follow the suggestions.

Marshal Goldsmith is a big time executive coach. He has worked with the likes of the head of the World Bank and Ford Motor Company, and his book Triggers boasts six and a half pages of glowing blurbs from various CEOs. If he’s good enough for them, he’s good enough for me.

Goldsmith defines a trigger is any stimulus that reshapes our thoughts and actions. Our environment, he says, is the most potent triggering mechanism in our lives. I can relate to that. If I didn’t buy those cookies, they wouldn’t be in my environment calling my name. Still, knowing what to do and doing it are not the same thing. It’s a tug of war between the planner and the doer.

We need to forecast our environment by anticipating what might trip us up, avoiding those things (like those cookies,) or adjusting. When changing our behavior, we have four options. We can change positive elements, in other words create new ways of dealing with our challenges, or maintain positive elements that are already working.  We can also change negative elements by eliminating them or maintain negative elements by making peace with them.

My favorite part of the book is a technique Goldsmith uses that he calls the engaging questions. To make questions active, he prefaces them with “Did I do my best to…” Here are the six he uses for everyone:

Did I do my best to set clear goals today?

Did I do my best to make progress toward my goals today?

Did I do my best to find meaning today?

Did I do my best to be happy today?

Did I do my best to build positive relationships today?

Did I do my best to be fully engaged today?

Additional questions can be added depending on what your specific issues are. The key is to ask yourself these questions every day. You are no longer monitoring results or the lack thereof. You are monitoring your own motivation and reinforcing your commitment.

This is an eye-opening way to change your mindset. Question four is particularly meaningful for me.

What questions would you add to the list?