Saturday, July 26, 2014

Reminders that I need regularly

zen habits: Living the Simple Life

Posted: 24 Jul 2014 11:20 AM PDT
‘A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.’ ~Henry David Thoreau
By Leo Babauta
For almost 9 years now, I’ve been learning to live a simple life.
A life uncluttered by most of the things people fill their lives with, and left with space for what really matters. A life that isn’t constant busy-ness and rushing, but contemplation and creation, connection with people I love and time for nature and activity.
That doesn’t mean I have zero clutter and zero complications: I’m a part of the world, not a secluded monk. I have possessions, electronics, distractions, and occasional busy-ness. I just have reduced it to make space.
Today I’ve been reflecting on this simple life, and thought I’d share some of those reflections.
Some things I’ve learned about living the simple life:
  • Decluttering your home and work space can lead to a less cluttered mind. These visual distractions pull on us in more ways than we realize.
  • A quiet unrushed morning is a thing to treasure. I wake early so that I have some quiet time to read, write, meditate.
  • You can’t have a simple life if you’re unwilling to let go of what you’re used to.
  • Letting go can be difficult, but is easier if you do a one-month challenge. Let go of something for a month and see whether you like it or not.
  • Letting go of cable TV was one of the best things we did early on — no more constant television in my home, no more ads for crappy things we don’t need.
  • Shopping isn’t therapy. It’s a waste of time and money.
  • If you’re filling your life with distractions, its probably because you’re afraid of what life would be like without constant Internet, social media, news, TV, games, snacks.
  • Simple, whole, healthy food is not only much healthier than junk food: it’s a pleasure.
  • You have to make time for what’s important: time with your kids, time with your spouse, time for creating, time for exercise. Push everything else aside to make time.
  • Overcommitting is the biggest sin against simple living most people make. I painfully cut out a huge number of commitments to simplify my life, and I’m glad I did. I do this every year or so because I keep forgetting.
  • I keep my days mostly unstructured and unscheduled so that I have room for the little things that are so important: reading with my child, going for a walk, taking a nap.
  • I have certain activities I do almost every day, though not on a schedule: writing, reading, eating healthy meals, doing a workout or playing with the kids outdoors, processing my email inbox, reading with the kids.
  • It’s easy to fill up our lives because there are so many things that sound amazing. We hear about what others are doing and instantly want to add that to our lives. But it’s harder to remember that by adding so many things to our lives, we are subtracting space. And that space is important.
  • By saying no to things that sound really cool, I’m saying yes to what’s truly important to me.
  • Distractions are both more tempting and more destructive than we realize.
  • It’s tempting to fill in every little minute of the day with productivity or distractions. Don’t. Leave some emptiness.
  • We put too much emphasis on excitement. It’s temporary, and not important.
  • We overemphasize productivity. Focus, priorities and effectiveness are more important. So is a nice walk with a loved one.
  • If you can’t learn to sit in a quiet room alone with no distractions, you won’t be able to simplify.’
  • Buying things doesn’t solve our problems. Neither does food.
  • It’s not how few things we own that matters. It’s whether we make those things count.
  • It’s better to have six books on your shelf that you’re really going to read than a hundred you never get around to.
  • When you travel lightly, you’re freer, less burdened, less tired. This applies to life, not just travel.
  • Your attention is your most valuable possession. Give it as a gift to the people you love most, not a bunch of clowns on the Internet. Give it to the work that matters most, not distractions.
  • Sometimes distractions are nice.
‘Let’s begin by taking a smallish nap or two.’ ~Winnie the Pooh

Friday, July 25, 2014

Taking a big leap of faith

I'm headed out today to do an intensive one-on-one workshop with the magician of the inner child, Denny Gregg. I did two group workshops with Denny years ago and they were immensely helpful. Now I'm ready to let go of more of what's holding me back: old wounds, old anger, old grief, old fear. I don't know what the next three days will bring but I'm willing to see what happens. It's not surprising that I came across this quote on FaceBook today. Wish me luck!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Tracking where my time went

Last week, July 20-26, on the advice of my coach from the money program, I kept track of my awake time in 15-minute increments. I thought it would be tedious but I did it every couple of hours and it was simple enough. But I do have to say that I was disappointed in the results.

I was hoping to discover that I was frittering away large amounts of time that I could recoup for the many things on my want-to-do list and that wasn't the case. Yes, I watch 60-90 minutes of TV most nights (a Netflix movie or an episode in a series). And yes some hot afternoons I take a nap and read for an hour. But that's about it for extra time and not at all sure I want to give up those forms of relaxation. .

The truth is that I am very productive already, which is great, but I have way more things I want to do than time in which to do them. Another piece of the paradox is that I want to have a more spacious life, a less scheduled life than I do now and still get a ton of stuff done. An interesting inquiry to be in.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Asking my friends about me

As part of the personal net worth exercise for the money program, we were asked to interview some of our close friends and family about our strengths and weaknesses. It would give us more information about our assets and liabilities of personality or behavior. I asked seven of my close friends to answer the following suggested questions about me.

a. What do you see as my key strengths? as my key weaknesses?
b.  What is most distinguishing or unique about me?
c.  When am I most powerful?
d.  In what situations am I least powerful?
e.  If you could wish one thing for me in the next year, what would it be?

It has been fascinating to get their responses and to consider what they see in me and how that matches up with my experience of me. Of course, the strengths are flattering and the weaknesses are great food for thought (after the initial gulp! of being seen as not perfect). And not surprisingly some of my strengths also get in my way.

It's an exercise I highly recommend. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Death in Phoenix

I've been following this blogger for a while. Her posts resonate with me. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

What is your personal net worth?

Our assignment this week in the money program is to create a statement of personal net worth. These are personal assets and liabilities in all domains except money (we are separately doing a financial net worth).
It's been a most interesting exercise.

I have a lot of assets: for example, a great apartment that I can afford in a great location with a great close friend as neighbor and it has a covered terrace and a porch swing, I have a solid exercise program, I have loving and affectionate close friends, I have wonderful cats, a reliable, high-mileage car that's paid for and it's red, I have plenty of interesting well-paid work, I have a studio close by that I can afford, I live in a wonderful city and a country with many freedoms. I've been working at the asset list for a couple of days and keep thinking of more things.

Writing the liability list is a different experience. I started with a number of minor physical health difficulties and then moved on to recurrent emotional issues that plague me some or a lot from time to time and that remain obstacles to my extraordinary life. The 12 steps keep me pretty free of unfinished business but I have sorrow around several old friendships that died so I put them down. But I'm having trouble thinking of very much.

I think there are two reasons for this. I have a very blessed life. My liabilities are few but real sticklers, problems I resist solving.

What would your personal net worth list look like?