Thursday, July 31, 2014

Sanctuary at Work

My work territory has expanded recently.

The office moved from a cube environment to open space. Instead of working in a corner with a nice cubicle wall next to me, I am now in the middle of a large room. If I sat down I'd have cubicle walls, but it's more comfortable to work at a stand-up desk.

So what's a cubby-hugging woman to do? 
How do I create a comfortable place to work within an open space?

At first I tried resisting the change. I thought of ways to keep people out of my cube. I relived memories of my last open space environment job. But after struggling for a couple of weeks, I gave up.

During this time I kept stress at bay with non-dominant hand drawings and writings. The pictures were generally of someone inside a square with chaos happening all around.

One night, after most everyone went home two co-workers and I raided the meeting room and swiped one of the tables.  This was set up perpendicular at the left side of my desk. Now I had an L-shape space, or a square that is open on two sides. 

This small act of rebellion has reaped huge rewards.Yes, I am still in the middle of creative chaos. But taking the time to build myself a sanctuary allows me to focus on the task at hand. Adding an iPod Shuffle packed with my fav tunes also helps me feel good. 

Now when I'm hanging with my work people, I love it. Sometimes it's a quiet riot, with the roomful of us focused on our computers. And sometimes it's just riotous, with nerf footballs flying and folks scooting down the main aisle on lime green scooters. I've even threatened my co-workers with a Tarzan call ala Carol Burnett. Regardless of the co-worker weather, taking the time to set up my personal square lets me enjoy the co-worker chaos from the comfort of my almost cube.

How do you take care of yourself at work?

Monday, June 30, 2014

Hitting the Reset Button

Sunday morning when I tried to complete a simple task, everything went wrong. All I wanted to do was upload a workshop CD into iTunes using my laptop. First iTunes wouldn't open. When I went to connect to Internet so the CD info would load in automatically, the Internet was connected, but my browser wouldn't connect.

I actually had a workshop selfie in mind. I'd been frustrated and stressed about some changes at work at work and being Sunday, I wanted to get the energy out of me before Monday came rolling back around. I ended up frustrated and stressed about the workshop!

While I was waiting for the Internet to reset, I got a phone call. One of the owners of the ranch was coming onto the property to work for a while. He was meeting someone who also worked at the ranch. Since my room butts up against the wall of the shop and garage, it is not quiet. Oftentimes the smell of the hauler, or tractor, or leaf blower wafts into my small space. Workshops are a lot less effective if I'm being gassed by farm equipment.

By the afternoon, I had unpacked my new printer and set it on a rolling table that was brought in from the house. I rearranged my room to accommodate the printer table. I talked to Grace, the other ranch owner on the phone, and learned how to fill up the yellow jacket trap that is hanging in the tree outside my room. (Wait until the evening cool when the yellow jackets are dormant.) I pressed the computer, Internet and my own internal reset buttons countless times in order to move into the next unquiet task.

Sometimes, when I try to plan my day, instead of following the day, I have to reset my acceptance dial all day long. Although it is hard to let go of my plans, when I do, I allow myself the benefit of wonderful surprises such as bags of lemons and oranges at my front step, an day of catching up with friends and a newly arranged room.


Saturday, May 31, 2014

Magical Spontaneity

Here's what I miss most about working full-time: magical spontaneity. Intending to create more magic into my day, the universe conspired to give me a boost.

Early this month I found myself doing a double wait. One wait was for my car to pass a smog inspection, the other was to cross busy Higuera to browse the thrift store. After a few moments I realized the house that I was standing in front of had a PSYCHIC HEALER sign posted in the front window.

I pretended to walk past, searching for an easier place to cross the street, but then I immediately retraced my steps, thinking 'what the hell?' and walked in.

I stood in a glassed-in porch that ran along the front of an old blue wood framed home. The first thing I noticed was the stack of "$15.00 Dollar Special" flyers with a phone number. Since no one came through the door that led to the house, I called the number on my cell. 10 minutes later I bypassed the Special for an in depth tarot reading from Kimberley. 


My personal history of tarot is: I studied tarot, practiced tarot, read tarot for others, was freaked out by tarot and stopped reading tarot. The reason I freaked was because after reading for several strangers, I realized that it was actually easier to read the person. That is, the cards were merely a place for the client to focus their energy.

Practicing the art of tarot taught me that when I pay attention to my intuitive energy, stay in touch with, accept and move through my emotions in a regular, conscious practice, then becoming an energetic reader of others is simple. But, I have to admit, reading for others was kind of exhausting. After all, I'm mostly interested in myself!

Having Kimberley read for me was a treat. Although I was given a hint of a positive future prediction, and I wasn't told anything I didn't already know, somehow I felt relieved, affirmed, and stronger.

Rediscovering magical, spontaneity means being aware of the roadsigns throughout our day: even if it means staying on the same side of the street.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Music Up Your Life

My March and April weekends have been filled with the final days of a weekend job, and spring cleaning. And now that I had free time, I intended to spend last weekend on To Do List tasks in between sitting on the fabulous patio.

5/26/13: the fun patio with fabulous friends

Turns out my weekend worker warrior attitude was project schmoject. I did enjoy the view, but in between lounging, I found myself sorting through my music CDs instead.

CDs. You remember, those round discs that replaced cassettes last century.

Because I have an older car, I still have a CD player. While I'm all for iPods, iTunes, and Spotify there's nothing like a good old-fashioned CD. I like setting up the compartment in between the front seats with plastic envelopes that hold two CDs. I keep about a dozen favorite musicians, inspirational talks and my own latest music project to accompany me on my 1/2 hour drive to work. It's being on a mini-vacay, twice a day.

Recently, I browsed music at Boo Boo Records in downtown San Luis Obispo to replenish my commute collection. It reminded me of the weekends when I was a teenager, hanging at the record store with friends, searching for albums and okay, 45's. Afterwards at home, I'd read the album cover and lyrics while listening to my new find.

While it was lovely to browse and dig through all of the music possibilities, as it turns out, I was taking care of my spirit in more ways than one.

According to Huffington Post columnist Kate Bratskeir, "people who simply listened to music had the same decreased anxiety symptoms as those who got 10 hour-long massages. Choosing the right tunes could be an important factor, however, as a happy or sad song can also affect the way we perceive the world." 

(Full article at The Daily Good)

Though it's only Tuesday, I'm already excited for my weekend. In between lounging on the patio, I'm going to make a new playlist for my iPod.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Procrastination Blues

Since I've been settled into my new working life, I've been doing my best to avoid completing a creative project. I kept telling myself I was too busy, too tired, too stuck to move forward.

But now that the DVD player in my computer needs replacing, I've renewed my commitment to the project's completion. I told my vision support group that I'll work on this task for 10-minutes a day,  minimum.

The point of 10 minutes is take tiny steps toward completing a task  Because of the short time limit, I generally work past the alarm. However, if I've had an especially long day, 10 minutes is all I need to tell myself, 'there, today I spent time moving forward on my dream.'

Wednesday evening I worked for one 10-minute session, but now I'm back to avoiding. So many inspiring books, so little time.

I recently ran into a creative acquaintance at Trader Joe's. I hadn't seen him for several years. After catching up, I told him about my procrastination.

"I think I was hoping it would turn out better. I'm disappointed that it isn't perfect."

He could relate.

A different creative friend who has launched many projects responded,

"Liking your own project isn't the point. But now that you've invested so much energy, it's time to just get it done."

I guess I can re-name this blog The Perfectionism Blues.

Now that I think about it, I got this far on the steady eddy method. In fact, the project was completed during my house-hopping stint.

So, if I didn't even need stability to get to this point: I'm not going to allow a little stability stop me now.

How do you move through the procrastination blues???


Thursday, February 27, 2014

If Shackleton Can Do It

It's February 27, 59 days into your New Year's resolutions and it's time for a check in.
By now you've created a new habit, and that habit needs an energy boost. Being a regular intention-setting gal, I recharge by thinking about my favorite inspirational warriors. When I find myself chanting under my breath, “If Shackleton can do it, I can do it,” it's definitely time for a quick review of my hero's bio.

Ernest Shackelton was an explorer famous for his failure to find the South Pole. It was the early 1900’s. Though their ship, The Endurance, got trapped in pack ice, broke up, sank and had to be abandoned; under Shackleton’s leadership, all of the men survived and returned home safely—one year later.

The Endurance photo by Frank Hurley
In her book, The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition by Caroline Alexander, page 94 offers this quote by one of expedition members, Macklin,.
As always with him what had happened had happened,” Macklin wrote. “It was in the past and he looked to the future without emotion, melodrama or excitement. He said, “Ship and stores have gone, so now we'll go home.”

Basically, the crew's survival came down to this:
  1. They did not get caught up in the story of the tragedy.
  2. They established a routine of work and physical activity to keep the monkey mind at bay.
  3. When the work was done; they played music, sang songs or ran around on the ice.
It's easy to abandon my intention to take the next step if I've had a lousy/grueling/long/stressful day. It's hard to unhook from an emotional day and allow the present to inform my next right move. But if Shackleton can do it, then I can do it. If Shackleton can do it, then I can do it.

Who is your inspirational warrior?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Muddy Moment

My latest re-read is the book My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor. She is the brain scientist who had a massive brain hemorrhage. Her book documents her journey as her left-brain facilities shut down during the four-hour time period of the stroke. She fully recovered and now travels and speaks about her insights. My biggest insight has been how diligent she was in her self-care. In order to heal completely, Jill studied the affects of daily routines that zapped her energy. This section fully caught my attention. Because I am working more scheduled hours than I have for a long time, I'm struggling to recapture my spontaneity.

I've discovered that spontaneity is not how many moments I've collected for down-time: it has to do with simply being present. Being present is being available for spontaneity, which leads to insight, joy and deep satisfaction. In chapter 13, What I Need Most, Jill noted that one of the biggest energy zappers was the constant storytelling of the left brain. As a writer, I always believed that zoning out on stories and imagery was kinda good. But upon reflection, I realized that most of the left brain's stories had to do with whether I was doing enough, earning enough or good enough. When I began listening in on the rhetoric, my first thought was 'Enough!'
Photo from

Now when I hear my left brain gearing up for another long tale of enough-ness (where I always come up short) I simply imagine it standing behind a tiny, yet effective plexi-glass wall in my brain: I can see its lips move, but can't hear what it's saying. Next, I direct my brain to lecture at a podium beneath a giant sign that reads “Storytelling.” The sign is one of many. Other signs read “The Worry Monger,” “Fear Is a Wild Pig” and “Why I Should Be Master of the Universe Even If I Don't Own a Smart Phone.”

 With my left-brain busily engaged, I am now free to focus my energy on the present. Not surprisingly, I've found my week peppered with spontaneous pockets of joy. One was laughing as a young man in a cow suit strutted down the sidewalk on Santa Rosa advertising the Cowgirl Cafe. Another was glancing at the ocean at dusk and spying the sliver of the new moon. Still another was the moment after successfully wrestling a sprinkler from the mud that the boars had buried several inches deep. It was 7:30 am on a crispy morning, my pants were soaked, my knees felt creaky, I had citrus leaves in my hair and mud splattered on my face, but I felt alive and energetic and so appreciative of my nutty life. So this year, I'm not aiming for any specific resolution or even evolution. This year, I'm all about the sweet, muddy moment.