Tag Archives: Priorities

Purposeful Path for 2009: forget New Year’s Resolutions; pick a “theme”

Purposeful: adj. intentional, meaningful, full of determination

Path: n. a way of life, conduct or thought

I gave up making New Year’s resolutions a long time ago, because they were inevitably doomed to failure. (Research bears me out…). Instead I’ve picked a THEME for the year – a word or phrase that indicates a path, focus, attitude, or way of being to attend to.

The first time I tried to choose a theme I had about five disparate ideas.  I was chewing over these on a walk with my best friend that New Year’s morning. She listened to me prattle on for awhile and then she said, she had a better one: “FOCUS!”

Of course she was right – focus has been an issue for me since I was a kid. I’m not ADHD, but my interests and passions are all over the map. Jill of all trades, mistress of none… So Focus it was – for two years, because it took that long to simplify my life enough to do so.

Last year was  “Completion.”  I’m embarassed to say that I’d forgtten completely about that theme until I just read it in my journal entry for New Year’s Day 2008. Obviously I never figured out how to keep the idea in front of me!

Several of my friends also choose annual themes, so they have been kind enough to share their themes, in case I wanted to borrow one:

  • “Think Big” – VaNessa
  • “Engage!” – Heather
  • “Generous and open-hearted” – Peter
  • “Make it happen!” – VaNessa
  • “Patience and understanding” – Mary
  • “Now is the time!” – Jack

I love some of these, but “Now is the Time!” really resonated with me and I’m going to run with it – for several reasons:

  • The energy cost of dithering on decisions (as minor as to whether to keep or toss a piece of paper, or as major as just FILING the damned divorce papers and being done with it.)
  • The acknowledgment that the present moment is all there is and I want to be present for it
  • The recognition that time is precious

The question is: How will I keep this mantra up front in my brain several times a day for a year?  What will be an effective trigger to jog my mind?

Jonathan Mead, guest poster on Zen Habits offers these suggestions:

  • If you want to help yourself get in a creative state, you can setup an environmental trigger. Maybe that means sitting in a certain chair (putting on your thinking cap, as it were). Or it could be triggered by a change in your breathing (slower or more rapid breathing).
  • To get excited about exercise, you might setup a trigger by moving a certain way or doing a visualization. You could make your trigger swinging your arms back and forth and visualize yourself in front of mirror with your ideal body. Use something that gets you pumped up. MMA fighters and boxers do this all the time by slapping their chests or face. Not recommended, but you get the idea.
  • In order to put yourself in a state of confidence, you could create triggers in your posture. Sitting straight and stretching my arms above my head always makes me feel more confident.
  • To trigger yourself into a state of focus, you can touch your eyes or massage your temples.
  • Putting your hand on your heart is a great idea for cultivating an open mind and preparing yourself to really listen to someone.

These are just a few ideas; you can make up your own triggers. They can also be environmental, like engineering the attentional feng shui of your room. Take a look at your space and see what kind of triggers it sets off in you. Are they reinforcing your passions and your goals?

My current idea is to write NOW IS THE TIME right after the day’s date, when I sit down to journal. And whenever I write the date on a check or a time on my calendar, to use that as the trigger to say out loud, with conviction: NOW IS THE TIME!  Hopefully that will remind me to breathe deeply and ask myself, “what’s happening right now?” and “what should be happening right now?”

Yoga class is another place to use this trigger. It also wouldn’t hurt to review a chapter of one of Eckhart Tolle’s books – the Power of Now, or A New Earth.

I’m noting NOW IS THE TIME on my calendar for the 1st of the next 11 months right now.

Perseverance #2

Perseverance – continuing resolutely despite obstacles, opposition, importunity. Tenacity. From the Latin perseverare: per- through + severus severe

Twice a year, spring and fall, I call in the troops because my yard is in a state of emergency. Our fertile soil has produced more plant material than I can handle. Fecundity, they call it. In the spring it’s the unwanted – weeds; in the fall it’s the remains of plants I wanted – dead perennials, leaves, nuts, twigs.

Raul has been my main man for about fifteen years. He used to come with his two cousins. Now he’s the big boss and he sends three guys who whip thru the cleanup in a few hours laughing and singing.

I usually work with them, though not at their pace. They’re workers, not plant people, and I want to make sure they don’t mistake one of my babies for a weed.

But yesterday Raul’s crew was busy elsewhere and he just sent José. (“Call me Joe,” he said.). My heart sunk. The yard has never been more overgrown and I get one guy?

My back yard, where he started, is much worse than the front and I could tell that Joe was somewhat alarmed by the task ahead. I told him I wouldn’t be able to help because of my pulled muscle and asked if he wanted to send for reinforcements

He just shrugged and struck his hoe into the dirt. “I can do,” he said.

And he did. Section by section, hoeful by hoeful. Perseverance in action.

He worked for nine hours with only a lunch break. He pruned back a hedge and transplanted a rose too. In nine hours he transformed my yard from a jungle into a place of order.

Sure, there are still pockets where more work will be needed, but this just teaches me once again that no task is impossible if I would just hack away at it a little at a time, and again and again and again.

Once I set my priorities…

Priorities – #2

Priority: a preferential rating- especially one that allocates rights to something in limited supply; something given or meriting attention before competing alternatives

Yesterday, in my paralyzed position of pain due to my pulled pectoral muscle (how’s that for a plethora of powerful P-words) I was forced to be a watcher instead of a doer.

I watched a video of the dying professor who looks so good, Randy Pausch, give one of his “last lectures” on time management at University of Virginia. He is a man who has the unenviable perspective of knowing that his days are numbered. (I know, I know. All our days are numbered, but we think our death will be decades or eons from now.)

Time is the most precious gift we have, he says. We must remember this. Over and over and over. Once a moment has passed, it’s gone forever.

I didn’t listen to the whole lecture, so I don’t know if he touches upon the Eckhart Tolle (Buddhist, Taoist, etc etc) mantra of being present to THIS moment instead of clinging to the past or fretting about the future.

But he did talk about setting priorities. What’s important? Why am I doing this? Does this matter? Is it on purpose?

I don’t know about you, but I find it pathetically easy to get lost in trivial pursuits. Reading stories in the news that are unimportant and have no bearing on my life. Rambling thru internet searches that are fascinating and purposeless. Phone calls that chit-chat on an on about nothing in particular. Meetings for the sake of meeting.

The other issue is that I complicate my life with more than an underfunded single woman past middle age can handle on her own:

  • A 3,000 sq ft home that needs cleaning, organizing, beautifying and occasional fixing
  • A 1/3 acre yard/garden that needs weeding, trimming, feeding, watering, re-organizing and occasional fixing.
  • A mind that is hungry for new learning and new experiences – and therefore continuously thinks up new projects to sink into.
  • A soul that is hungry for music, dance, beauty, connection, color, flowers, love.
  • Friends and family I love dearly – some of whom can only be visited by airplane.

I can’t do everything to my high standards. I probably can’t even do half of everything to my standards. Where do I cut back? What is my highest priority? What is the highest and best use of my time?

Since I’ve been a feng shui consultant I’ve become especially sensitive to clutter in my own home and have gotten rid of a lot of it. But what is left is still always talking to me: use me, put me away, fix me, spend time with me.

If I want to focus on priorities I need to majorly downsize. Or find a partner with whom to share the bounty and the work… It’s time to make downsizing a Project – a goal with specific steps.

Priorities – if you’re into feng shui

Earlier today I read a post from a well-respected feng shui consultant in LA who gave her top ten feng shui tips. I can’t believe these are truly her top ten tips if by “top feng shui tips” she means “best suggestions for improving the ch’i in your environment.” They included keeping your windows and mirrors clean, your toilet lids down, your dead lightbulbs and dried flowers replaced in a timely fashion.

These are all good tips – but top ten????

When I go on a feng shui consultation dirty windows are usually far down on my list of where I believe the client’s priorities should be. Based on the issues I see in people’s homes, these are far and away the top problems:

1. Clutter, clutter clutter. This should hold the top five spots on my list. We have too much stuff.

2. Stuckness in the past (too many objects that no longer represent the person’s present or future life – and a staleness in the energy around them)

3. Lack of personal expression in the home. Furnishings, art and other decorative objects were either chosen by a decorator or are the kind of stuff you get at the mall. Either way, it’s not representative of the unique people who live there. Who are you? Figure that out then let it show in your surroundings.

4. Dull dead dreary color choices. Beige walls. Brown sofas. Color is transformative people! and paint is cheap.

5. The expectation that putting a symbol in a particular gua will magically bring their desire to fruition. Put a statue of two love-birds in your Love & Marriage corner and bingo! your prince arrives. No. He won’t unless you get out into circulation. Or lose a few pounds. God helps those who help themselves, isn’t that the line?