Thursday, August 30, 2018

A great quote from Joan Chittester

Joan Chittester is a radical nun in her 80s. I love this quote from her book, The Gift of Years.

"Holiness is made of dailiness, of living life as it comes to me, not as I insist it to be."

Saturday, August 25, 2018

7 Habits of Highly Effective People 25 years later

Like many people, I read Stephen Covey's seminal book when it came out. I was in the middle of changing careers from college professor to freelance editor and some of his ideas were very helpful to me. A few weeks ago, I saw that amazon was giving away the 25th anniversary edition for free on Kindle so I got a copy.

In rereading it, I can see that I first read this as a success manual for working and that I interpreted "highly effective" to mean "highly successful." I don't know if using his ideas made me more successful or not (although I've had a good career as an editor) but I found his ideas thoughtful and helpful.

But now I'm rereading it for another purpose and I'm seeing that "highly effective" has a much different meaning for me now 25 years later. I'm not looking to be successful anymore except at living so being highly effective really speaks to me and I'm able to see all the references in his book that are about relationships and living a principle-centered life. I'm glad to have this resource for my inquiry.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Circling retirement

I'm getting serious about retirement. I've figured out the finances and how much work I'd need to continue to do to cushion my already pretty simple life and it seems quite doable. So I'm thinking about the kind of life that I want to create in this next phase of things when my relationship with time will change.

I've watched my friends and acquaintances enough to know what I don't want: a gazillion volunteer projects that become the new work schedule, the trip after exotic trip of the chronic traveler, and least of all, hours and hours of daytime TV. I know that I want more time to paint, that I have many more books to write, that I want to do good in my community in some way. At the same time, I want to get even more comfortable with a spacious schedule and learn to be in the unfolding of time rather than in the managing and controlling of time.

I'm looking forward to this inquiry as I look for a path and not a prescription. 

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Asking new questions

Much of our verbal interaction relies on familiar and safe questions, the classic being "How are you?" This is such a familiar question to all of us that we don't even really answer it anymore. Not with any considered thought anyway. We say "Fine" or "Good." We ask ourselves and others equally familiar questions. What do I want to eat? Waht should I wear? What am I going to do next? I'm not suggesting there's anything wrong with these questions. They're often appropriate and helpful. But learning to ask ourselves different questions, new questions can lead to a different quality of life. Here are some new questions I'm asking myself.

Do I need to rest now? As an addict to productivity and a to-do list, this question has become vital to my well-being. Instead of racing on to the next project, I ask myself if I need a break. Do I need to go out and walk around the block? Do I need to spend some time with my cats? Do I need to go out to the porch swing and read a chapter in whatever book I'm reading?

Will saying nothing be a better choice? By nature, I'm a fixer and an idea generator so if you've got a problem, I've got a suggestion. But I'm learning to listen without responding. I can have those great ideas and not share them. If you ask me for one, I can give it to you, but much of the time, I know we all just want to be heard, not fixed.

What would be most satisfying to do next? As a food addict, I am always on the outlook for ways to be satisfied that don't involve eating. I'm slowly learning to monitor satisfaction through activities and interactions with others. I'm creating a repertoire of things that work for me and a key to this is to make that a priority.

Will this choice increase my peace of mind? I've written about this before but asking myself this repeatedly during the day is so helpful, from accepting an invitation or a work project to getting something out of the refrigerator. Peace of mind is my filter.

What new questions could you ask?

Monday, August 6, 2018

Another inquiry about self-talk: conversations

I seem to be on a roll with inquiring about my self-talk (assumptions, complaints). And I think this is very important work. As one of my teachers reiterates, we don't live in the world. We live in the conversations we have about the world. And we can manage and choose those conversations.

So what kind of conversations do I want to have with myself and others? Conversations about possibility, not about problems. Conversations that encourage me to think wider, kinder, more generous thoughts about myself and others. Conversations that encourage me to take risks in my painting and writing, regardless of what others will think of the product. Conversations that keep my own needs in perspective with the needs of others. Conversations that stay away from complaining and blaming.

There's a wonderful freedom in knowing that this is all up to me.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Exploring the end of complaint

We've been having a heat wave here in Portland and while I'm so grateful to have invested in two portable air conditioners for bedroom and studio, I'm used to using my whole apartment for cooking, eating, entertaining, hanging out. Instead of the usual peace and quiet, I am living with my biggest fans. Instead of the lovely views out my window, I have all shades and curtains drawn. But I've really noticed that all my complaints about this, spoken to myself as well as to others, has not had any impact on the temperature outside. Shocker!

In this case, complaining is a completely worthless effort. It does not make me feel better to do it, and it doesn't change anything. It just keeps me unhappy. And no wonder. Every time I complain, I hear it. And it wears me down. It's the same thing with my complaining about our current president. It has no impact on his behavior whatsoever.

So I've been exploring what it would be like to just give up complaining. I think this would be useful for me. It doesn't preclude change, by any means. But instead of saying what's not working, I can ask for what I want in those situations where change is possible and accept those where it is not (Serenity Prayer).

What's your relationship with complaints?