Monday, December 7, 2015

Why I Gave Up My Dream Job To Stay Home With My Planners

I was recruited by a defense contractor to serve as a translator and interpreter for the US Army in Romania last month. Being born in Romania and speaking the language fluently, I considered this to be an opportune moment to wrap up my life and live out of a suitcase for 1 year, effectively placing all my other activities on hold. I should be ready. Most of my stuff has been KonMaried, I know where all my documents are. I have scanned copies on Evernote.

During the in-processing with this company (who shall remain nameless to protect the guilty),  I was asked to provide a slew of documents, get physical examinations and was presented with the restrictions on what I could take with me. After having read all the documents, I understood that my life was to fit into 2 rolling duffle bags and anything else had to be mailed to me once I was in country.

THIS was THE opportunity to pop open my planners and belt out my lists contents in operetta form, because I had been preparing for this since forever. I had whittled my planner collection down and was prepared to carry 4 planners in a backpack for 3 weeks until I got to where I needed to be.
I had all the travel loyalty cards and new all their access codes. I had logins and passwords written down for my husband to access all accounts in my absence.
I told my clients to be patient.
I bought new clothes
I closed out loose ends
I deposited checks, sold last minute items, posted things to the mail.
Brand new computer bought (smaller than what I need for editing but perfect for 1 year abroad).

Still paperwork kept rolling in. With a week to spare to my leave date, we decide to take a family trip to the Virginia Tidewater area to look for a house because our lease was up in January 2016. Ten + hours each way with my husband, mother and puppy, with pee pee stops every 2 hours or so. None of the houses we had selected worked out.
One of the houses the realtor suggested worked.
Still paperwork was coming in. No time to respond, no sleep to speak of. Clients pay no attention to "we are closed until the new year" sign. Orders keep pouring in.
"Stop at the underwear store, I need new underwear for one year" Underwear bought

Offer placed on house, Offer negotiated.
Thanksgiving Day Offer is accepted
Next day. We get word my mother in law passed away. My husband starts making plans to fly out for the funeral.
10+ hours driving back in torrential rains.
Phone calls, Pack up husband. Make more lists. A few loose ends still not tied up and now new loose ends with powers of attorney needed for my family.
Now, the family will be moving without me present. All my life will be packed in boxes and stay in boxes until I get back.

It's all going to be worth it. This is the job you've been waiting for, K.

More vaccinations needed for new job. Stop working, start driving to meet all the requirements.
New requirements for new job spring up. Meet requirements. Check.
Tickets? I need tickets? Call company... tickets on the way. Tickets arrive. One business day before weekend of travel:
Mom wants me to follow her in my car to get to Carmax to have our cars appraised. This. Now.
While at CarMax...
We will need the following original documents for your processing-COPIES WILL NOT DO.
"Um, I only have copies." (Friday Morning, flight slotted for Sunday)
"That won't do."
You never said you needed copies before, I have provided you everything in my life and thinking: why would you NOT list such a specific request on day one?!
Friday Afternoon "Am I flying out Sunday or not?"
No phone call, no email. Notice of flight cancellation sent by airline.

Executive revelation had and decision made Sunday while at the dog park with husband and puppy:
You didn't have your life together at all. You had the framework for getting it together. You have now just started to get your life together. What's it worth to you to be away from your life now that you know what to do in order to get it together? What's it worth? Is it worth your health?

These people still haven't called or emailed me. It's Monday afternoon. I have only words of gratitude to them, for allowing me the massive stress, the upset to my health and the horrific last-minute , mad-dash planning on my end to pretend my life was in order.

We are getting ready to move to our forever home. FOREVER HOME after being moved around almost every year for the last 15 years. There is an office for me in our new home (which we haven't closed on yet but are very close to). This office is upstairs and in the back corner. It's a sunny corner of a corner house in Williamsburg, Virginia. It has french doors to it and when you walk in to the rectangularly shaped room, you notice the sun beaming down on the hardwood floors-floors that were reclaimed from a pier during the Boston Tea Party. My planners want to live here and not in boxes waiting one long and lonely year for me. I want to meet my friend Steve during designated hours and record our radio program. I want to start putting down roots. I want to take my dog to the dog park. I want to plan it all out so I can see it from the comfort of my home, which I have earned every square inch of.

I'm calling Apple today to see if I can swap out my very tiny laptop for a 27 inch iMac so I can clearly see the wonderfully horrid resumes my clients send me, so I can help them move past their unhelpful resumes and move into what they need, a document to serve them.
I'm scoping out yoga and pilates studios, and making pedicure dates with my girlfriend in DC and wrapping my head around what it might feel like to not have to ever pack up and move again. Being an interpreter is still my dream job and I don't want to have to live in a self-induced nightmare to get it. Because when a dream shows up as reality, the effort needed to get there should have already been made, gracefully and not in a panic, without the terror of not knowing if one has enough underwear to last a year.
Getting ready to KonMari the rest of the house before the move. Now that's a dream I can look forward to.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Tidying Up Your Life And Other Steps To Loving Yourself

There may be quite a few fanatics of author, Marie Kondo out there. I am one of them. I have devoured her book, "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" and am quite content FINALLY understanding what all the stuff in my life was doing. 

Some of it was filling a void. Some of it was trying to be first class. (please read my blog post on being first class to fully grasp this concept). Some of it was useful and some of it was a very good representation of my emotional state while armed with a credit card. 

And so we come to Charlie Chaplin. Yes, Charlie Chaplin. I paraphrase this thoughts here because the actual quote varies on many levels. 

As I began to love myself I freed myself from anything that is no good for my health-food, people, things, situations, and everything that drew me down and away from myself.
At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism. Today I know it is "love of oneself."

I have experienced the "magic" of #KonMari's techniques. I have seen my house linger with the awesomeness of being complete in all tasks BEFORE the weekend even begins. I have...seen the back wall to my closet. And all of these are unpaved steps on the journey of self love and self respect. 

Sadly, this is not a topic taught by most parents or schools. The self care my body, mind and soul requires is compartmentalized within the scope of exercise, study and prayer. However, no one has ever conceptualized the divine grace of combining all three aspects into a discipline of the self as a form of active self respect and self love. There can be no greater gift. No amount of money can purchase this sense of well-being and there is something wonderfully attractive about discipline. 

I have already seen the social media commentary about people who have tidying up their lives so completely that their therapists are beginning to intervene, requesting their clients not take up so much time tidying, as it is most probably serving as a distraction from real issues. If this is your therapist please understand, your therapist probably says that because he or she thinks the focus on tidying up takes away from purposeful living. Most people freakishly tidy up as a matter of bringing temporary order into their lives. Your therapist doesn't get that you are mindfully invested in living deliberately. This is not a chronic thing. It used to be and to most people perpetual cleaning, unstopping, decluttering, and all that that entails is manic behavior which is indicative of a long-term (read long time paying) client. 

The ability to self asses and realize that living in a tidy and orderly home is not a fantasy and having something like that is not reserved for the rich and famous. 

Have you noticed how the wealthier people are, the less stuff they actually own? Clutter is non-existent in wealthy homes, while it is pervasive in poorer homes or homes where debts are owed. 

In order to change the direction of your life, particularly if you agree that self respect and self love are the best gifts you can give yourself. Then why not start disengaging from anything that draws you "down and away from" yourself? This is the premise of KonMari's book. She captures her concept with "does this item spark joy"? I HIGHLY encourage a new reader to follow the order of releasing items from your home because the order actually determines your ability to succeed. There are many who will advise you begin decluttering by working in one room a little bit each day or setting aside a box of items you no longer use. These are all the same methods you are already aware of and these methods have led you to the same stuffed closets and cupboards you have today. Belongings MUST be grouped together in like categories before attempting any release. All Clothes, all books, all papers, FROM EVERYWHERE around your home must be gathered up together. That's why she urges one grouping at a time. 

The relationship I had with my belongings before I read Marie Kondo's book was almost non existent. I was the perfect consumer, buying, slightly using and then throwing or donating items to cycle in the newer and fresher things, never grasping the magnitude of my wastefulness. Particularly in full understanding the amount of money being spent on things that continued to make me unhappy. This realization alone, was worth the read for me. And it is very different when you read these words off a blog instead of living them. 
I also recommend the two-part Japanese video series about a fictional KonMari character who does a better job of explaining why belongings need to be sorted in a particular order. 

Droves of people are swearing by her technique. I am one  of them. I also see the value of how tidying up your life is the greatest demonstration to the rest of the world of how to treat you. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Be First Class In Everything

I recently came across a sticker that read:
You can't have a first-class body while eating off the dollar menu

This truly resonated with me and in my journey to streamline all aspects of my life. How can I expect to have anything worth having if I don't commit my whole self to it? I have to be first class in everything I do so I can live the first class lifestyle.

There are plenty of celebrities who we see traveling in style and jet-setting in first class accommodations. The critics will criticize but, one thing is abundantly clear, you never see them eating off the dollar menu. Some of the wealthiest people have full-time live-in chefs that create daily menus. These celebrities make a concerted effort to eat well, take care of their bodies and create a daily routine that makes their well-being the centre of their activities.
Yes, they do get paid to take care of themselves. But in a way, you and I get paid to take care of ourselves too. We are the ones that have chosen the careers we have. We have chosen our mates, our homes, our cities our menu items, our routines or lack thereof.

In our every day lives we all pay a price to buy the things we want. We also pay a price for neglecting the things we don't take care of. In essence, if you don't take care of yourself and instead, you neglect yourself, you have a great chance of losing your given investment of health and well-being.

The actual cost is then measured in co-pays, drug side effects, insurance costs, time away from family, time away doing things you HAVE to do in order to make it through another day, phone calls with incompetent administrative clerks, mistakes, schedule changes and various other time suckers which would otherwise not exist in a healthy person's world.

The sicker we feel the less we are able to do for ourselves and I'm sure most of us have held a pity-party or two for those god-awful, can't get out of bed-days. So how do we come out of this comatose state of perpetual dis-ease? It starts with our mindset.

Mindset, or the things you tell yourself when there are no words coming out of your mouth, defines your life. 

Research has shown that 95%-97% of the choices we make during the day are made by the unconscious mind. That's a HUGE percentage! The number really has had an impact on me. I have made a vision board out onto one of the walls in my pilates room. Yes, I am that woman. My husband bought me a pilates reformer machine when we first moved to Kentucky. The entire room is dedicated to well-being. The wall that faces the machine is covered with images I would like to incorporate into my lifestyle. These images include, fit people, disciplined people, images of faraway, exotic travel locations, camping gear, fine dining, prayerful images, hopeful images and all the other daily moments that I want my 95%-97% to be influenced by. I visualize my life on paper through planning but I also visualize where I would like my life to go through an ever changing collage of images to give my brain clear guidelines on what to create. My path is created by my DELIBERATE efforts to coax my unconscious mind into purposefully select things that are good for me.  This is the first fundamental of being First Class in everything.
Create space in your life for your first-class lifestyle

How to create space in your life for deliberate living

The next step is eliminating anything that does not support that first-class lifestyle. Ratty t-shirts, clothing that never gets worn and only takes up space, miscellaneous items that clutter up space, books upon books of stories that have already been accessed and are sitting, lifeless on the shelves. These things take up space. They take up all the second and third class space you are willing to allow. 

Ever notice the main difference between first class and economy seating? More space. The nicer treatment is a plus, but what everyone is really after involves more space. First class lounges vs. economy lounges? More space. Fine dining vs fast food? More space (even in the kitchen). In cultures where space is at a premium, like the Japanese culture, you will find people eliminate a lot of other miscellaneous items to create the sense of space, which in turn, creates a sense of calm. Some sushi bars and ramen shacks are extremely tiny. People have to squeeze in. Nevertheless, every millimeter of space has been accounted for to create a space worth sharing or a space better left empty. Compare wealthy peoples' homes with those who complain about not having enough. Notice, I am not saying poor people.  Truly poor people have very few belongings. I am talking about those who complain about not having enough money and yet their homes are bulging with belongings. Why do all the home makeovers look so drastic when they are complete? Because they have created more space, either by building a bigger room or eliminating excess clutter.

Space give us a clean slate to do with that space whatever we want. I don't like filling up my walls with paintings or decor. Wall art is not decor for me. It's visual noise, even if it is a beautiful work of art. That bit of art is another artists's interpretation of how my wall should look ALL THE TIME. There is no room for me to bring in my own thought or interpretation. Blank walls, empty desks, or roomy airplane seats allow for breath and movement. This empty space will also allow for your mindset to shift. This is really the only way to provide yourself first class service in life. Always look for more space and if there isn't any, create it. My hero for creating space has been author Marie Kondo "KonMari." In her book "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" she gives the formulaic layout for creating space in your life FOR EVERYTHING. I highly recommend her book and her system to as the first step in understanding the process of being first class in everything.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

October (is really the last month of the year) A Planner's Perspective on the most important planning month of the year.

This was meant to be published in October of 2014. However, due to a cross-country move, I am now extremely early for October 2015. Consider this your first quarter check-in for your annual goals. 

So, October. Right.

 How can it really be the last month of the year? I mean we all know the last month is December. 

Let me break it down for you.

Most of the Northern Hemisphere on planet Earth begins slowing down, rhythmically with the seasons. One of my goals in 2015 is based around mindfulness. Therefore, if I am being mindful of the fact that seasons indicate change in nature, then as a natural being, I too must align myself with that change. So, starting in the Fall, things start to slow down. I am very fond of this season, because aside from dealing with an unhealthy dose of anxiety, I enjoy watching nature slowly turn the volume down a little bit each day, from muted colors in the plants and trees to the changing winds that bring the aromas of apple cinnamon spice cider, pear tarts and pumpkin soups.

Right about the time the Halloween nonsense starts to appear in stores, I start a virtual timer in my mind and take into consideration the "turning down" of the home, work and life, very much like the turning down of a hotel room and bed. There is a certain freshness in having deliberately decided to do a particular activity. When we leave our hotel rooms, the staff come and "make up" the room. Preparing it for activities that involve being "up." We could just get into a made bed. That's what most of us do at home. But the mindfulness aspect of living comes into play when we purposefully, "turn down" a bedroom to prepare for doing things while "down." The "making up" or "turning down" implies a routine, simple steps that take a space from x to y. I find October to be the month to transition from "made up" to "turned down."

Unless you are hosting massive halloween parties every year, there is really not much planning to have to get done for October. However, right around the corner is Thanksgiving. Meal prep, family phone calls, spare room refreshening and general house tidying comes alive. My birthday also happens to be at the end of November so I am usually planning a getaway for us. Sure enough, right after Thanksgiving, Christmas celebrations are in full swing and depending on where you live in the world, the weather starts making itself very known. When we lived in Alaska, one of my favorite moments was the rush to ensure we had enough provisions to get a good chunk of the winter out of the way without having to leave the house too often. No one really wants to make a run to the store for bulky items at -35F. Porches were swept, cobwebs  removed, garage cleaned-out and a small stockpile of dry goods would magically appear in the house.

With all this going on, I really am not thinking about the planning that is going to happen for the following year.  I don't want to think about the future right now; I want to enjoy the now. These 3 months are the most magical months for me and I allow myself to mentally and physically enjoy the final months of the year by using the first 2 weeks of October as "Turn Down" weeks. October 15th is my deadline to order planner inserts for the next year. This way, I am not caught in any of the Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year's rushes and my inserts arrive with plenty of time for me to work out any new tweaks to my system.

Ordering inserts in October also gives me time to start filling in what I will be doing the following year. Now, I may not know where I will be but, I can certainly start defining what my goals I want to incorporate into my life and how I want the year to play out. Having my inserts early, allows me the time and space within the spare moments stolen during the quiet months to get my thinking done. I make time to be alone and I make time to ensure my Master Task List from the previous year has been reviewed and unfinished items moved into the new year's list.

Once the New Year is come and gone, I am normally eyeballs deep in getting resumes out and giving talks on streamlining. I don't want to have to start thinking about what my goals are in the first month of the year. I have been thinking for three months and am activating all the processes I have planned out. I admit, January carries with it a sense of heaviness. There are 12 long months ahead of work and plans and all sort of things that need sorting out. There is also a sense of freshness and newness and the chance to make everything new with what didn't work in the year before. I make a point to steal quiet moments in January, as much as I can. These moments usually involve my planner and I would not want to be in the second week of January hoping my inserts would arrive already!

I hope this year, you create some permanent rituals for yourself and your household to "turn down" the year but, until then, we've got some work to do.