Monday, September 22, 2014

Wabi-Sabi-The Japanese concept of finding perfection in imperfection

The widely referenced website, Wikipedia, has a rather accurate description of Wabi-Sabi:

Wabi-sabi (?) represents a comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete".[1] It is a concept derived from the Buddhist teaching of the three marks of existence (三法印 sanbōin?), specifically impermanence (無常 mujō?), the other two being suffering ( ku?) and emptiness or absence of self-nature ( ?).
Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, asperity (roughness or irregularity), simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes.

I recently decided to purchase an "as-is" Gilliodoro planner from Gillio
Photographed from the point of view as a "flawed" item, this Red + Gold (dual tone) Amica A5 planner, was positioned on display with the intent of disclosing, with full transparency, the obvious issues, the most prevalent being a discolored spine from having been placed in a sunny window display. This decidedly red planner had a blotchy, orange spine.
I kept looking.
The description stated it was missing its original box and as an added "flaw," it was equipped with a non-elasticated leather pen loop.
I kept looking.
And heard a little whisper say, "Look at the perfectness of this imperfect item." Thousands of miles away and I took a chance to order this unwanted item for a more than reasonable price. It finally arrived last week.
Here are my thoughts as we go through some photos I took early on a cloudy, Southern California morning. The cloud coverage added a hint of blue to the red. In fact, the red is brick/crimson red with soft, soothing undertones bringing an overall harmony to the entire planner.
Here is the open planner. As you will notice, the spinal discoloration is hardly visible in this light.

Let's take a closer look at the leather on the cover. You will notice a rather sumptuously textured and grained epoca leather.

There is a simple, refined, old world elegance to this planner. It's almost pensive.

As I opened the planner, I noticed the workmanship on the clasp, including the even and consistent stitching, the unbridled graininess of the gold leather on the inside and the little pocket of collapsible leather alongside the popper to add aesthetic design, show mastery of leather-work and clearly define this important mechanism of the planner-the gateway.
We are now presented with a rich visual marriage of red and gold autumnal colors to underplay the subtle and nuanced aesthetics of proper craftsmanship and design.

Notice the careful stitching alongside the pockets and card slots.
The interior is a visceral and tactile experience, drawing the senses to experience all the tamed portions of leather. This is the embodiment of refinement.

As we move across the planner from left to right, let us observe the matte Krause rings. My fingers took a loving stroll alongside these rings when I came across them. In a world where often gaudy color palates combat sophisticated and simple tastes, I am BESIDE MYSELF to find understated, high-quality, REPLACEABLE rings in a luxury planner. This small gesture speaks volumes to the overall value added when looking for an every day planner to inspire, quiet and record daily thoughts, plans and calls to action.

The back inside cover has two, full length pockets and 3 card slots with the Italians reminding us once again, they are, indeed, the gods of quality design and execution.

 As I wrap up the planner tour, I will attempt to highlight the blotchy orange spine again. To try and convince you there is actually something wrong with this planner. The lighting in my office and the cloud coverage blend the orange but it is readily visible to the naked eye.
It doesn't bother me. I thought I was going to rush out and get the color matched evenly, to try and bring it to a uniform standard of quality Gillio is notorious for upholding.

I am happy with this perfectly imperfect planner. It is a planner that I have been waiting for without even knowing it. I accept this planner with its perfect imperfections and would like to impart upon you the value of luxury ownership through something one of my heroes is quoted as saying:

"Luxury lies not in richness and ornateness but in the absence of vulgarity."-Coco Chanel

If we begin to look at our lives (our planners are a part of our lives) as an experiment of building consistent quality, then we ought to certainly not be afraid of finding imperfection. The Gilliodoro planner I shared with you is imperfect and can also be brilliant example of luxury. The imperfections do not take away from its essence of old world elegance. Similarly, your imperfections do not alter your essence. 

I consistently refine and simplify my life. I encourage all my clients to do the same-to remove what is unnecessary and become mindful of all our abilities and blessings. This A5 Amica, with no back pocket, no-elasticated leather pen loop and blotchy orange spine has now become the most valuable and luxurious planner I own and although I own more expensive planners, there are none more perfect than this imperfect model. 

I help my clients create strategic life plans, focusing on creating and designing a streamlined life. Yearly goals are broken down into monthly, weekly and daily routines that are built around small but permanent habit changes. I am thrilled, beyond measure, to place my routines, goals and permanent habits into this planner and carry with me the imperfectly perfect legacy I am working on in 2014 and will happily carry over in 2015. Automation Nirvana resides here. 

Stay tuned for my upcoming book "The Streamlined Life: Quick + Easy Tips Bringing Order to Your Whole Life, by Planning, Tracking and Designing Small + Permanent Habit Changes

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Planning Your LIfe On-The-Go

I was not born knowing how to plan and keep my life organized. I learned this process by experimenting with different set-ups and invariably succumbing to consumerism. Being able to design a life on the go requires some planning. Not a lot. But some. 
First, how long will you be on the go? 

Are you taking short business trips, able to use your home as a landing space?
Will you be taking 1-2 month long trips away from your home State or country?
Are you just planning the "on the go" to mean time away from the family and the house while you are at work?

Assess your needs. Then create a plan. And work on it every single day. 
The household must keep running while you are away. What information will a stranger need to help your household continue running smoothly?
Gardner? Handyman? Pool guy? Seasonal charity? Cleaning? Pets? 
Inventory of things and life are probably the most valuable items one can have, away from the home. One of the most frustrating things I experienced was being in a foreign country and unable to determine how much damage was incurred to my flat, back home, from flooding. 

Here iis how I have set up my On-The Go planners for my needs.

Business travel 2-3 times per month
Average stay 4 nights 5 days 
Mode of transport: Airplane and car

1. A5 Gilliodoro Amica planner which contains my client list, schedule, and project management.
2. Medium (Personal) Gilliodoro Navy with DIY Fish inserts to track personal goals, development and well-being, including gratitude journal, vitamin tracker and exercise log.
3. Filofax Piccadilly Red Slimine for my wallet which has Daytimer soft silicone credit card inserts to hold practically every credit card, loyalty card, gift card or any other unnerving card that has a tendency to float around my office. They are all contained there. And when I do find myself shopping while away, I can always have my gift cards at the ready. I do a little happy dance when I use one up and can get rid of it. Making space in my wallet means making space for money to find its way to me. 
4. Laptop (depending on the workload) or iPad Mini, a tripod stand and a bluetooth keyboard with access to a full version of Word to keep my editing on track. 

At the airport, I merely have to have my slimline with me to show ID or use a debit card for miscellanous purchases. None of these babies get checked in. EVER. The only things I am willing to check-in are things that I would be ok losing. That is, I can always replace clothes, make-up, shoes, etc. But I would be lost without my planners and my trip would probably come to a standstill without proper ID to check into hotels, money and cards for car rentals. These items are always on me-usually in my handbag.

I travel with (read: carry on) a vintage Louis Vuitton Randonee Grand Model (GM). This has been a staple for me in the last 5 years and no matter how many other bags I try, nothing else comes close to the simple, practical clean lines. It goes with everything and holds the whole lot!
One suitcase: A Rimowa Cabin International (black) which can be checked in or carried on. I will do a separate post on what I take and how I pack. 

Keep in mind this is only for 5 days travel. However, the minute I leave the house (and my office) all my clients want to reach me. So I make sure I carry the essentials with me to remind myself of conversations I have had with my clients. Having a personal assistant (thank you, Joanne) also helps tremendously. 

International Travel
Average Stay: 1-2 months
Mode of transport: Airplane, train, car

When my husband and I travel we like to take our time and see our friends. We are lucky enough to have access to free plane tickets around the world and as such have to have a VERY flexible schedule. This means traveling light and being able to manage the home while we are away. 

1. Traveler's style leather notebook with important client details transfered over to include the past month only. Special pocket holds my passport
2. iPad Mini with tripod stand and bluetooth keyboard.
3. Filofax Piccadilly Red Slimine for my wallet

We have annoyingly cheesy, matching Gregory Rucksacks and we only take about a week's worth of clothing with us, because we usually get our laundry done on the go and can always buy more as we go. On trips where we are going to stay put in 1-2 places for the whole tiime, we pack regular suitcases and have now gotten into the habit of posting them via UPS ahead of our travel, so our belongings can meet us at the hotel. No losses, no damaged suitcases and we can always ship what we want home. 

Staying connected is important but even more important is having a system to make sure things are running the way they always do. Finding reliable and trustowrthy housesitters is probably one of the best choices you can make for youself on long trips away. Providing your housesitters with a manual on how to run your home is priceless. Currently, I am using a Filofax A5 Red Finchley. It seems to be working fine and holds up to the daily wear. 

I am a big fan of enjoying life. Being a connoisseur of life, such that travel is actually enjoyed and when I get home from my travels and I don't need a week to recover because I have been resting enough while I have been away. Although we do travel with alarm clocks, we only use them to make sure we are on time for the often early airport roll calls. Other than that, the alarm clocks stay tucked away and we do what we like. If we feel like we want to stay in and sleep, we will. That is a tremendously freeing experience. Our mantra has been: Travel light and often. Eat well while on the road, sleep in dark, cool and quiet rooms and stay hydrated. 

We hope to spend Christmas with my Godmother in Germany this year. Traveler's notebook is ready to go!