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See you there! oxo Cairene

Luck favors the prepared.

I want to share an observation that I fear is going to be too woo-woo. Too law-of-attraction. Too build-it-and-they-will-come. Which I so don’t want to encourage or promote because we all know there is more to life and business than that.

But, once again, there it is.

I worked out better systems and policies and procedures for a particular element of my business. I have answers to questions. I got organized. I am now clear on what I’m doing and how I’m doing it – and can communicate that.

And suddenly, without promoting it at all, there is flow where there was not flow before.

Huh.

This has happened before. I know this to be a reliable thing. Yet I don’t know if I’ll ever stop feeling pleasantly surprised by it.

In my head, I remember Cheryl Richardson explaining this phenomena in Take Time for Your Life this way: When you show the universe you’re ready, it will give you more.

Funny, when I look up the quote, it’s actually:

Abundance flows when you trust yourself enough to handle it.

It’s really hard to trust yourself to handle things without some systems. Without getting a little organized. Without being clear about what you are doing and how you are doing it.

I know developing systems isn’t as much fun as your creative work (right beside you, there). But rivers really do need riverbanks in order to flow properly.

So, I invite you – challenge you – to try this for yourself. Pick one small part of your business where you want more flow and tidy it up. Get organized and clear with it – and see what happens. See if luck really does favor the prepared.* Then come back here and tell us about it.

* This is more fun to think about if you picture Edna ‘E’ Mode, super-suit designer to The Incredibles, saying it. Luck favors the prepared, dahlink. (Remember: no capes!)

Three often-overlooked time hogs.

Bent on lowering our household water use one summer, I Googled water conservation through less toilet flushing. It seemed simple enough, but like hanging the laundry outside to dry, my results were less than optimal – so I went searching for answers. I discovered the topic being discussed at astonishing length on several forums. On one, a wise person pointed out that unless you had taken care of the big stuff – shorter showers, efficient washing machines and dishwashers, repairing leaky plumbing, appropriate landscaping – flushing a few less times a day was nearly pointless.

I think we often approach conservation of time in the same myopic way. Zoomed in on the latest technological gizmo or finding the perfect planner, we forget to step back and evaluate the big picture. No single tool will have a measurable impact if we haven’t eliminated the truly substantial time-wasters in our lives.

Recently, I have been reminded of these significant but often overlooked time hogs.

1. Not Trusting Your Intuition

You can know something without knowing why, and still act on the information.

Last year I tried a handful of new activities and in every case, although I couldn’t quite put my finger on the reasons, I knew almost immediately they weren’t a good fit. And in every case, I waited to act on that information – anywhere from days to months. For the entire time I delayed action, they remained background distractions – a white noise of hemming and hawing over something I had already decided. Eventually, push came to shove and I had to summon the oomph to withdraw myself, whether the why had percolated to the surface or not. But I could have saved so much time (and energy) if I had simply acted on my intuition the moment I felt it.

Of course, this can work the other way. Instead of delaying in saying no, we can be just as apt to put off saying yes. Either way, waiting until we have “proof” is a time-waster.

2. Not Saying No As Soon As You Want To

Could you _____? Do you have time for _____? Would you like to _____? You know the answer, you just don’t want to say so – you just don’t want to say no.

I’m all for diplomacy, but in most instances you don’t need to equivocate. You don’t need to check your calendar or talk with so-so first. Saying I’ll get back to you when you know your answer needlessly creates a new task you both have to follow up on. If you are anything like me, whatever discomfort you felt initially will grow and you’ll continue to delay replying. There it is on your to-do list day after day, nagging you: Get back to X about Y – the guilt of saying no compounded by the guilt of not saying so sooner. Wait too long and you may end up saying yes – which is an even bigger time-waster.

So do yourself and everyone else a favor – be truthful and just say no (politely). Choose to respect time over being nice – it’s the nicest thing you can do.

3. Refining a Too-Complicated System

Good for you. You recognized something in your day-to-day doings wasn’t working well, so you’re making adjustments in your systems. Except now you’re in a tangle. Because making an adjustment here is requiring adjustments there, and there, and there. Augh!

According to our friend The Universal Cycles of Change, you may be relieved to know this is a natural part of the circle. Growth leads to maturity, which eventually leads to more complexity than the system can support. The resulting turbulence – that augh! you’re feeling – is a sign that something has to be shed or dropped before the next healthy cycle of growth can continue. If you don’t respond to the turbulence, if you don’t let something go, chaos will set in.

Intricate systems require a lot of time and effort to maintain in the first place, but they are also extra-prone to chaos. So next time you find yourself in a tangle, ask yourself how you can remove the knot completely to make what you are trying to achieve as simple as possible. And stick to simple systems whenever you can.

• • • • •

Managing all three of these time hogs requires awareness, some way of staying awake to your experience. You need to be able to hear the voice of intuition, the cry of no, the sound of turbulence to be able to act on them and use your time well. Journaling, meditation, walking outdoors, yoga, painting – whatever works for you – do it. Often. You can’t be productive or efficient – at least in any meaningful way – without regular opportunities to listen.

Cultivating self-awareness is the first lesson in becoming a Time Disciple. I’d be honored if you chose to practice with us.

And this week you can register at this year’s price instead of next year’s. It’s the early-early-bird sale to celebrate the new website being very nearly ready. If becoming a Time Disciple is something you’ve been wanting to do, celebrate with me by saving some monies now and being wowed later.

Because 77 lentils deserve 77 more.

So Havi does this thing for American Thanksgiving. The Lentil Game, aka the Ungratitude Game. Or her list of 77 Things That Don’t Completely Suck.

It’s cool. It’s the sort of thing you read and think to yourself, “Ooh, fun! I want to make a list of 77 things that don’t completely suck!” Especially if you are hoping for a way of practicing gratitude without being pressured to say what you’re thankful for before you’re allowed to eat the turkey you only make once a year. (Mom and I are pretty good cooks, but a whole turkey? Just a series of educated guesses. At least one of which we got wrong yesterday. But don’t worry, we’re not sick or anything like that.)

But it’s especially cool if you turn out to be one of Havi’s lentils. #12. Right next to Marissa. [blushing] Lucky lucky me.

So, as Barbara did, I might be sending Havi a gift later. But for right now, the best way I could think of to say rightbackatcha sweetie! was to make my own list.

Like Havi, I’m sure I’ve forgotten important stuff. Like brie. And Portland. But it’s just a game. And we all know my life is richer than 77 things. There are tools and places and people not listed that I adore and am deeply grateful for. Like you.

So, with that, I present 77 Things That Don’t Completely Suck.

  1. The Lentil Game.
  2. Havi.
  3. My sweetheart.
  4. My poochaloo.
  5. Sauvie Island.
  6. Fetching sticks.
  7. Coffee.
  8. Parents I actually want to spend time with.
  9. Especially being spoiled by my mother.
  10. And my dad.
  11. And his wine collection.
  12. Which brings us to the privileges of having more than enough.
  13. Like this Apple laptop on which I’m crafting my post-turkey day list of 77 things that don’t suck.
  14. The internet.
  15. That allows me to earn my upkeep my way. In my pajamas.
  16. And connect with the most wonderful people.
  17. Models and colleagues like Jen.
  18. And Jen.
  19. And Guest Guides like Laura.
  20. And students-now-friends like Deborah.
  21. And Sarah.
  22. And Sarah.
  23. Twitter where I can hang out with said wonderful people who joke about things like It’s Talk About the Americans Behind Their Backs Day! (best Thanksgiving Day laugh ever – thanks @jovanevery).
  24. Allie – who knows how to make internety things work while looking all gorgeous (the unveiling is right around the corner!).
  25. Marissa – the spectacular person behind the curtain (well, I think of her as Rusty, but that’s a story for another time).
  26. Hint: Ocean’s Eleven – a guilty pleasure that also doesn’t suck.
  27. Not working alone anymore.
  28. BFF Annie.
  29. And our upcoming mastermind retreat – plotting! fireplaces! soaking in hot water!
  30. The entire profession of massage therapy (me and my arms thank you).
  31. Balms that feel and smell oh-so good.
  32. Ishbel – though it’s been much too long since she worked me over.
  33. Appliances like the dishwasher.
  34. And the washing machine.
  35. And the vacuum, not to mention, sigh, the rug shampooer. I love you.
  36. And shelter – shelter that keeps the rain and cold out definitely doesn’t suck.
  37. Rawhide – the second best dog-sitter.
  38. Linda – the first best dog everything.
  39. Except, Max would like to say, purple jolly balls - and bread.
  40. Did I mention a car that runs most of the time?
  41. Oh, and Waverly (swoon).
  42. And traditions.
  43. And permission to make up your own. Like the Lentil Game.
  44. Yarn.
  45. The occasional glossy magazine.
  46. I am thankful for yogurt.
  47. And day-of-the-week pill boxes.
  48. And bag clips from Ikea.
  49. As well as big reusable grocery bags.
  50. And giant poppy wall stickers that cheer my kitchen.
  51. The replacement of my favorite-but-worn-out-and-sadly-discontinued winter shoes my beloved found on ebay. Best early Christmas present ever.
  52. Walks.
  53. Being able to walk.
  54. Friendly neighbors to greet on our walks.
  55. Craigslist.
  56. Rather, my husband’s gift for manifesting both income and whatever else we need on Craigslist.
  57. Plus his punny punny sense of humor.
  58. And his techy talents (what would I do without an in-house IT department?).
  59. Which he applied to recording tv shows to watch later.
  60. Nova and Good Eats whenever I want them.
  61. Yeah, Alton Brown doesn’t suck.
  62. Naps.
  63. With Leonie.
  64. Down comforters.
  65. Art.
  66. That people make it.
  67. And I get to, too.
  68. Plus music. Music is good.
  69. Jamiroquai in the morning.
  70. Or Steely Dan.
  71. And Fabeku who takes sound to a whole new place (acutally, sound is where it’s always been, he just shows people where and what it really is).
  72. The ocean.
  73. The sky.
  74. And other perspective-restoring bits of nature.
  75. Like butterflies.
  76. The ancestors who came before us.
  77. And, of course, Thanksgiving leftovers.

Let *stuff* go. The last of a series.

Jen Louden started a conversation over at her Comfort Cafe about simplifying the holidays. When I began reflecting on how I’ve done that, it turned out to be more than a quick forum reply. Plus, I think it’s a great question. So, this week on the blog, it’s all about…

How I restored magic to the holiday season. [part 6 of 6]

If you’re just joining us…
Magic-Restoration Step #1: Don’t pay attention to the count-down.
Magic-Restoration Step #2: It’s a season, not a day.
Magic-Restoration Step #3: Know your symbols and traditions.
Magic-Restoration Step #4: Just make stuff up.
Magic-Restoration Step #5: Let stuff go.

Let stuff go.

This brings us back to Magic-Restoration Step #1. In deciding how I wanted to honor the holiday and the season, in choosing which symbols and traditions had most meaning for me, I realized even more than I had before how little the material elements of the holiday mattered to me. I like presents – giving and receiving them. I like feast days – good company and good food belong together. But it doesn’t take an endless amount of either to satisfy me. Enough is enough.

I’ve long been a fan of exchanging experiences rather than goods. It’s the thing I like most about the Advent Conspiracy, which emphasizes relational giving – then doing something generous with the money you would have spent on stuff.

Magic-Restoration Step #6

In recent years, our Day has gotten smaller and smaller. Less travel. Fewer people. Fewer gifts. Less food. More quiet. Almost as though we’re distilling it down to its essence, its essentials. So, we don’t do and have much, but it is strong and saturated and therefore satisfying in its simplicity.

And because we haven’t crammed the season full of stuff and stuff, there is a spaciousness to the holiday,  there are openings for meaning and magic to enter.

I don’t really miss anything I’ve let go of. Which doesn’t mean I don’t have nostalgic memories of the days of more, the happy overwhelm of my childhood. But more stuff isn’t going to bring the magic of those days back.

I have to keep inventing and seeking and opening to new magic. And so do you.

In summary (the Twitter version):
There’s no rush. You’ve got a whole season. There are lots of ways to do this. Don’t do anything you don’t want to do. Enough is enough.

Happy Holidays.

Let stuff go. Part 5 in a series.

Jen Louden started a conversation over at her Comfort Cafe about simplifying the holidays. When I began reflecting on how I’ve done that, it turned out to be more than a quick forum reply. Plus, I think it’s a great question. So, this week on the blog, it’s all about…

How I restored magic to the holiday season. [part 5 of 6]

If you’re just joining us…
Magic-Restoration Step #1: Don’t pay attention to the count-down.
Magic-Restoration Step #2: It’s a season, not a day.
Magic-Restoration Step #3: Know your symbols and traditions.
Magic-Restoration Step #4: Just make stuff up.

Let stuff go.

For me, the flip side of educating myself about symbols and realizing many so-called traditions are very young and not so profound is a greater willingness to let them go when they don’t fit.

Which sometimes means letting them go forever. But sometimes it just means not this year. For instance, I don’t always decorate. Some years I need the house to be a place where I can get away from it being unavoidably everywhere else.

The hardest time to let something go is when it involves letting a person go. Families change and grow, but they also shrink. Sometimes keeping a tradition can be a way to honor the past, but sometimes that’s all pain and no meaning. In that case, it can be better to let it go and introduce something new.

Magic-Restoration Step #5

Like building up to one day, hanging your happiness on certain things happening a precise way practically ensures disappointment. Not every year has to be the same, nor can it be. I find as long as a few key elements remain unchanged (stockings and a particular bread, for example), the rest can be flexible and reflect what I need and want right now – which usually leads to a more meaningful experience.

So, again, don’t just go through the motions. Be choosy. Try not doing those things that don’t excite you this year. See what happens. One thing’s for sure, the world will not stop turning if you skip a tradition or two. It may feel like a high-risk experiment, but it’s not really if you think about it. If you miss something, just bring it back next year.

• • • • •

Don’t create new year’s resolutions just because… Join me and Laura Burkey to learn a kinder, more intentional alternative that actually works. > fun and engaging tele-workshop December 3

• • • • •

Just make stuff up. Part 4 in a series.

Jen Louden started a conversation over at her Comfort Cafe about simplifying the holidays. When I began reflecting on how I’ve done that, it turned out to be more than a quick forum reply. Plus, I think it’s a great question. So, this week on the blog, it’s all about…

How I restored magic to the holiday season. [part 4 of 6]

If you’re just joining us…
Magic-Restoration Step #1: Don’t pay attention to the count-down.
Magic-Restoration Step #2: It’s a season, not a day.
Magic-Restoration Step #3: Know your symbols and traditions.

Just make stuff up.

One thing I’ve learned in recent years is it takes a surprisingly short period of time for something to become a “tradition.” Do it more than twice and you’ve got one. The time-worn traditions of my childhood? Not even as old as I am.

Much of the wonder and delight created by my mom and my aunt was stuff they just made up. And not for hifalutin religious reasons either. One of our most beloved and staying traditions is getting new pajamas on Christmas Eve. Which all began when we were toddlers so we’d look cute in the next morning’s pictures. No joke.

Magic-Restoration Step #4

If those two women can invent such magical traditions, so can you. As with Time and Systems and everything else, you are the only one who can best choose and create the circumstances that are right for you. You don’t have to follow anyone else’s script.

• • • • •

You can replace the tradition of new year’s resolutions with anything you want. Join me and Laura Burkey to learn one alternative that actually works. > fun and engaging tele-workshop December 3

• • • • •


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