Tag Archives: priorities

Back

I’m back.

Back from Italy.

Back to work.

Back in the dating game.

But I also don’t quite feel back.

Maybe it’s jet lag. Maybe I’m still recovering from being sick for 2 weeks on vacation.

Whatever the reason, I feel a little floaty, disconnected, unsure where I am and where I’m going.

My inclination is to set some goals to help ground me, but every goal I can think of seems terribly inadequate or way too much.

Possible Goals

  1. Work hard at work. It’s crunch time. Get it!
  2. Catch up on all the episodes of The Voice. And Grey’s Anatomy. And Glee. And anything else I’m feeling drawn to. Watch ALL the TV!
  3. Get my dating life in order. What do I want? Who do I want to draw in with a revised profile? What do I like / not like about the folks I’m currently dating?
  4. Get off my butt and move to Oakland.
  5. Get serious about all the boring, everyday stuff that keeps me going – cleaning, cooking, meditation, exercise. Figure out what it takes to just do it and get it done and enjoy doing it.
  6. Read ALL the books. So many in my pile and I keep adding more!
  7. Plan a Ballots & Beyond fundraiser
  8. Get writing & editing on personal projects
  9. Call people! Hang out!

Too many goals! All feel important! Or compelling (The Voice is on in the background right now)! Can’t choose tonight … but trying to do all the things only leads to doing none of the things.

Happy August!

Hello August!

Hello to my brand new niece, born today!

Hello to a month where I will be in town the ENTIRE month. This might have happened in March? And perhaps the previous October? In other words, this is rare.

What do I hope for this fine month?

1. Relaxed Motivation toward Work

There’s a lot to do at work. I even want to do much of it, as we’ve just dreamed up a cool project that weaves together so much of what we’ve been dreaming about since I started a year ago.  I want to find both motivation and relaxation – not striving too hard, not lazing around too much. Remember the 7 Factors of Enlightenment as a tool for balancing relaxation and motivation!

2. Refrain from judging things as “good” or “bad” – especially when it comes to dating

Because I’m no longer clear what I want from online dating, it’s felt kind of confusing as some people I was excited about fall away and other people I found so-so seem more interesting. It’s hard to know whether some of these things are temporary or permanent, whether they are good or bad in the long term.

I’m reminded of this great story from Buddhism:

Once upon the time there was an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically.

“Maybe,” the farmer replied.

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed.

“Maybe,” replied the old man.

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune.

“Maybe,” answered the farmer.

The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.

“Maybe,” said the farmer.

3. Get Everything Settled for Italy

I leave for Italy September 13! I need to brush up on my language skills, reserve a rental car for part of our trip, get a new suitcase, and probably a hundred other details I’m not even thinking about yet. It’s time to think about all the tiny details!

4. Have a BBQ

I’ve been slowly working on the back yard. It’s time to get some patio furniture finally, and pick a date to host a little party.

This makes me panic a little – what if I pick a date where no one can show up? Ahhhhh! Get a couple of people lined up, and the rest will fall into place. It will be fun even as a small party.

If I could only do one thing well this month, I’m glad it’s online dating

In May, I decided I wanted to be diving deep. I wanted to explore more of what brought me out to the Bay Area, and discard anything that wasn’t fulfilling my needs. And I wanted to play with proxies for things that felt hard.

I did one of these things well, and the rest got brushed aside, forgotten in the rush of online dating energy. I can’t decide if this is fine, or the root problem of one of my patterns.

1. Practice the energy of destruction

I forgot about finishing my project of cleaning out my iTunes library.

It feels like a pattern for me. Things get screwed up, I freak out, and my brain just erases any reminders that I should be working on a project.

Or maybe not. I did leave town for a week, which didn’t help matters. I also made progress on other goals (like getting an online dating profile), which is a WAY MORE FUN project than deleting music files.

But this is the pattern, yes? Leaving messes behind so I can go get distracted by pretty shiny things!

I feel lost about how to resolve this.

2. Play with online dating

I am rocking online dating. Who cares that I left a mess of an iTunes library when I can go find cute people to date?

So far, I’ve mostly responded to people who have messaged me first. Luckily, they have not all asked me about Richard Gere.

I do want to spend some time looking for people I’m interested in. Just the practice of identifying what I desire feels important!

3. Do what I love at work

I feel like I lost sight of this since I’ve mostly been grumpy about work this week.

I’m pretty sure my grumpiness is only partly work related, but now that I read this admonishment to “do what I love” at work, I’m not sure that’s what I’m spending most of my time doing.

Instead, I’m sending email responses to people who sent me pretty snarky, and sometimes offensive notes. I’m doing my best to be on point and not feed the trolls. But I wonder if  I need to remember what I really want to be working on?

4. Play with incorporating other activities

I was outside all week while visiting Colorado. It was lovely.

Now that I’m back in the Bay, I am not getting outside nearly enough. I blame it on living all the way up in the attic (two flights of stairs before I can get outside!). I blame it on not having good patio furniture.

But really, I just need to do it. Walk more. Go sit in the sun more. Have breakfast and coffee on the back patio instead of at my desk. Lunch too. Enjoy the warm sun while it’s here.

Bringing Back the Goals

Last month, there were no goals.

That worked well to give me some spaciousness, but it also left me feeling adrift. My suspicion is that I did nothing last month, but I’m pretty sure I actually took two vacations, wrote an article for an anthology, trained a new staff member, dealt with more transition at work, and let life catch up to me.

Overall the month was about remembering how to feel what I wanted, and act on that. It was about dropping other people’s agendas to make space for my own agenda.

This month, I have already set some light goals.

1. Practice the energy of destruction

I love to grow new projects and ideas. But when things get overgrown, it’s necessary to prune back. If pruning hasn’t been done for awhile, sometimes there’s a much bigger ripping out that is needed.

I have a hard time with pruning as I go, often waiting until I’m being choked off before I make a move. Then I’m flailing, destroying things in my path in an attempt to survive.

So I’m practicing destroyer energy this month, pruning things that have been neglected. Like my actual back yard. And my iTunes library that got corrupted at some point, and now has 6 copies of each song.

2. Play with online dating

I just set up a profile on OK Cupid. I want to meet some new, interesting people and go on dates as a way to explore new people and places.

I feel overwhelmed already – how do I decide who to message? Who do I respond to? How do I keep it fun and playful, rather than another task?

3. Do what I love at work

There are so many things I feel like I *must* do. What happens if I do the things I love first? And then tell people about those things as fundraising & communications strategies?

What happens if I minimize the administration even more? Anything I don’t love, anything that feels complicated – gets dropped. Invoke more destroyer energy!

4. Play with incorporating other activities

Fundraising for Catalyst, planning the trip to Italy, writing projects. Plus the ongoing meditation, walks, dance, connecting with friends.

For awhile, I liked setting weekly goals. Then I liked having randomized to do lists. Then I liked dropping all pressure and only doing what I wanted to do.

I would like to play with different ways of doing this. How do I keep motivated to do the projects in my life, particularly ones with timelines or parts that feel hard to complete?

Getting the Hang of Level Two

This month’s goals looked different than I expected. I rewrote January’s goals, wanting to deepen into them. I got what I needed, even if I didn’t exactly achieve these goals.

1. Meditate for 30 minutes every day. Including (and especially) while on vacation with my family.

While I found it hard to maintain meditation while on vacation, I meditated two more times than I normally would have. Progress.

Even more exciting was how easy it felt to return to meditation after I got home. I’ve meditated every day, a minimum of 15 minutes, and 30 minutes or more most days.

I’m finding it hard to talk to people about how easy meditation feels right now. For folks who are struggling with meditation, it touches their pain at how hard daily practice can be. People who have been meditating daily for ages don’t remember when their practice solidified. I’m so excited about this, and it’s hard not to easily talk to people about it.

2. Use the even greater cuts at work to focus on what is absolutely essential.

At my mid-month check-in, I changed this to “How do I relate to work in a way that is sustainable?”

In addition to meditation, I also started some daily practices to help with entering work mindfully, and finishing the day by releasing it. Some combination of these practices are allowing me to interact with my work in a different way. While the work is still impossibly hard, I feel a lot more spaciousness around it.

I review these phrases daily:

  • I forgive myself for any pain and suffering I have caused myself or others due to my own ignorance and confusion.
  • I ask forgiveness from all those whose pain and suffering I have caused due to my ignorance and confusion.
  • May I show kindness and patience for the world by being kind and patient with myself.
  • May I show love for the world by loving myself, just as I am.
  • May I learn from any mistakes I made today, and use what I have learned to benefit all beings.

3. Ask (everyone) for help.

I am getting a lot of help. It’s sometimes hard to fully take it in, as I am not getting help from some key places where I am expecting it. It’s easy to get sucked into the stories of pain that come up when I’m told help is coming and it doesn’t appear.

But that’s not all of what’s happening. There’s a lot of help coming from unexpected places. And there’s even more help available, if I just ask for it.

I’m noticing I feel a lot more ease in asking for help, in identifying who to ask for help, and taking it in. I think it’s about time to drop this story that I’m bad at asking for help.

In the spirit of receiving for help, I’m looking for a few good folks to step up as my posse in my latest journey.

4. Be Nourished By Everything

In my daily practices for entering and exiting work, I start the day with five things I’m grateful for and end the day with five things I have learned.

Naming the small, beautiful things in life reminds me to be nourished by all that is good in my world. Framing the hard parts as lessons learned helps me remember how fucking up nourishes me too.

Level Two is Hard

How is Level Two going?

1. Meditate for 30 minutes every day. Including (and especially) while on vacation with my family.

I am back from vacation, and feeling disappointed about my success here. Out of seven days, I meditated one day for 30 minutes and a second day for 10 minutes. The other five days contained no sitting meditation.

Small victories: two days of meditation is better than my typical practice of zero. I practiced presence in other ways, sinking in to the physicality of sand and salt water and sunshine.

Key observation: My worst fear came true. I went out to meditate on the beach on the afternoon of my first full day at the beach. After 30 minutes, I came back inside. I felt assaulted on my way in, “We were watching you! Did you see this or that? We were tracking your every movement!” After this, I felt self-conscious about meditating outside again. I tried a stint in my bedroom, but mostly felt too overwhelmed to sit still.

As I settle back in to my practice – and I am heartened to feel how I can return now that I am home – I feel the waves of anxiety from just sitting still again. I know these will pass eventually, but it’s hard to feel like I’m starting over.

2. Use the even greater cuts at work to focus on what is absolutely essential.

My original thought here was to answer the questions: “How can I demonstrate what can be done by one person? How can I do that in a way that does not require that one person to burn out in the process?”

At this point, the answer is “this work isn’t meant to be done by one person.”

The question now is, “How do I relate to work in a way that is sustainable?” One answer may be focusing on the essential. But it is likely not the only answer. Or even the most important.

3. Ask (everyone) for help.

I am getting help with my dilemmas with relationships. I am getting help at work. I have stretched to ask some people for help, and weathered the hard responses (often the hardest being the lack of response).

As people return to work, as friends have more space to talk through things with me, it’s easy to ask people who are convenient for help. The lesson of this difficult time has been – stretch beyond what’s comfortable to ask for help. It’s the best way to bring people closer.

My intent is to continue to stretch – to ask people as a way to connect them closer. And to remember that this is not just about work!

4. Be Nourished By Everything

I spent the week being nourished by the ocean. By dolphins chasing fish in the waves. By nephews running in circles, popsicle smeared on their faces. By parents providing everything they know how. By Rilke‘s reminder to “live the questions.”

And I also felt the lack. The emptiness. The confusion. The stagnation. The hunger for something, anything.

“And you should not let yourself be confused in your solitude by the fact that there is something in you that wants to move out of it. This very wish, if you use it calmly and prudently like a tool, will help you spread out your solitude over a great distance. Most people have (with the help of conventions) turned their solutions toward what is easy and toward the easiest side of the easy; but it is clear that we must trust what is difficult; everything alive trusts in it, everything in Nature grows and defends itself any way it can and is spontaneously itself, tries to be itself at all costs and against all opposition.” – Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet.

And so there is nourishment to be found in solitude, in confusion, in difficulty. I don’t yet feel that, but I see a glimmer that it might possibly be true.

Intensity + Practice Brings Movement

January has been an intense month. I started the year with family in Indiana, having also just traveled to Colorado to visit friends. I came back and stepped into greater leadership at work. I also started working at home full time, which has its own set of challenges. All this intensity has been coupled with a lot of emotional and energetic movement. All kinds of old stuff is being released (yay!), but it’s been intense.

My intentions this month have been critical in supporting me! How did I do?

1. 30 minutes of meditation. every day.

Since I started January 4, I have meditated 30 minutes or more for 24 of 26 days. One of those days I had an intense somatics session in which I was deeply in touch with what was going on in my body. The other day, I meditated 15 minutes, before I ended up in bed trying not to get sick. Both of those “failures” actually seem like great examples of bringing mindfulness of the body off the cushion and more fully into my life. So I will count them as successes.

This is an amazing transformation in my life. Just three years ago, I was working on a daily meditation practice in which I would meditate 2 minutes per day. Working my way up to 10 minutes was a major achievement. For major periods, I have had no daily practice and have just tried to attend as many meditation classes as possible to make sure that I get regular mindfulness classes in. To have sat for 30 minutes nearly every day, mostly at my own house on my own cushion, and to have that flow with ease – this is a testament to the intention I kept even when my practice seemed so minimal. I kept doing intentional practice anyway, and it’s finally bearing fruit.

2. When in doubt, “What’s the next right thing to take care of myself?”

As I noted, this worked in the most sneaky way possible. I get completely lost about the next right thing sometimes. Especially if I’m torn between taking care of myself and taking care of something on my to do list.

This month, I took the decision making power out of my hands, and just randomly decided. I don’t care if it’s sneaky, because it’s totally working.

3. Be laser focused at work

I have had to be even more focused than anticipated, as a co-worker has been out sick for 10 days. That leaves just me to do everything.

A lot of my “I’m all alone!!!” buttons have been pushed this week, exacerbated when some of my requests for help have been turned down. As has been true of a lot of my buttons that have been pushed recently, it’s really just the last remnants of an old button that has been healed. The one last step is to notice that the structure of the button is still there and needs dismantled. It’s been a review of all my old issues, and a confirmation of all the healing that has happened.

4. Be nourished in friendship

I have both taken in a lot of connection this month, and felt really isolated this month. Some of the isolation is very specific – I have few people to process work-related things with, without feeling like my friends should start invoicing my workplace.

I also am just reaching that one year mark after moving, and I know the typical feeling at this point is that I have many local acquaintances, but few local people with whom I can be fully, authentically me.

Given those challenges, I feel like I’ve done a good job at taking in the nourishment that is available to me, and seeking out additional support and connection even when it feels awkward. I made several new connections with people that have the potential to deepen into the kinds of relationships I want. And that feels good.