What a Waste of Time

Wasting time is something we all do every now and then. Idling about is not a bad thing, if it means you are taking a mini-time out. But wasting time can also be a sign that you are simply bored with your life, your job or your overall situation.

Salary.com just released its annual Wasting Time at Work survey. The results may not be suprising, but they are amusing nonetheless.

Remember to integrate play into your day ~every day. No one ever says they wished they had spent more time at work when that day comes for them to transition out of this world.

Have a good one, people.

Courtesy of Salary.com

 

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Have you ever played the Waiting Game? If you have spent time waiting in line, at the doctor’s office, for that check in the mail, for that acceptance letter, for  the weather to turn for the better, for vacation to come, for the in-laws to leave, for the love of your life to come to his or her senses, then yes, you have played that game.

We all have.

Progress is not defined by the number of steps you take. It is defined by whether or not you move. I recently learned that progress sometimes means taking two steps back.

It was an icy, snowy evening after a photo shoot in Ingolstadt. I was feeling good, the kind of good you feel after a life-affirming experience in which the seer and the seen meld into a concert of pure emotion. The rental car I was driving wasn’t very wielding under the road conditions. But I safely made it off the autobahn and close to home before I lost control of the car altogether.

Quite by accident, I veered off the road and into a field, praying I wouldn’t hit anything. My first thought was not “Oh my God. I have lost total control and I am sure to die.” It was more like “Dag, did I mark the “yes” box for extra insurance on the rental policy?” Strange how our minds work when we are about to barely escape near-death.

The car stalled. My heart raced. I tried to move forward, but the car would have none of it. So I gently threw the car into reverse and drove back to where I came from.

With success.

Sometimes you have to move backward to move forward.

Progress comes from the strangest of places.

A friend of mine once offered me some support during a rather dark time of my life. I thanked her by saying, “Thank you for being on my side.”

Her reply? “Oh girl, I am always on the side of movement.”

So move, dear ones. Move toward your dreams, even if it means having to put it in reverse. You will get there, inch by inch with a dash of love for yourself and all that you have to offer.

 

 

The Art of Mindful Space Management

If your energy is flagging, take a look at your surroundings. Your exterior reflects your interior. If you have piles of junk stacked high around your workspace, you could equate the energy it is siphoning off of you with a two-ton elephant doing the same.

Yeah, it’s that heavy.

Stuff carries energy like a balloon carries air. Only stuff isn’t light like a balloon. It weighs a lot.

Size doesn’t matter. Sometimes it’s the meaning. Consider dust, for instance. We had a thick layer of it in our wintergarden. Dust reflects neglect. Until we removed all the dust, the house felt enshrouded in funk. Now the air is somehow lighter.

The more meaningless the stuff, the heavier it is. What about that pile of books you are never going to read? Or the stack of papers on top of your desk? Or how about that box of you-don’t-know-what that’s been sitting in the corner for five years?

It’s time to tackle them, one dump at a time.

For eight years we have had a bunny hutch that has stood, unused, on our porch. We took it to the dump this weekend. Right before we flailed it into the dumpster, I said a prayer of thanks for it safely housing our animals for one season. And a prayer of thanks to the dumpster for taking it away after seven and one-half years of standing useless in our space.

It makes a big difference when you clear away the detritus. The world seems brighter. And your energy field is clearer.

Liberate yourself from the energy vampires in your life. Gathering more stuff won’t set you free. Releasing it will.

Want to know the Story of Stuff? It might just be the best twenty minutes you’ll spend all day.

 

Slow Finance

Nobody can really say they like doing their taxes. Well, maybe they would if they knew they were getting back a huge refund at the end of the year. But most of us dread doing the paperwork, the countless items, lines and numbers that lead us down the path to the Internal Revenue Service (or, in my case, to the German Finanzamt).

As an American expat, I am still required to file my US tax returns. It feels like an exercise in futility because I pay taxes in Germany. But every year around mid-March, I fill out the forms like a good citizen, if only for the privilege of having a US passport.

It dawned on my several years ago that it’s not such a bad thing, having to fill out these forms, consider what income came in and how much flew out the door. I began thinking of it as preparatory work for my German taxes (although I have a brilliant tax accountant whose patience is immeasurable and likes the challenge of having a client whose tax situation is….um…confusing). When I turned around my attitude, I started to think of other good things about tax season, such as the trip down Memory Lane that it affords us.

Oh yes, I remember last March in New York…or did I really pay that much for that cheesy hotel? Or…what exactly did I eat at that restaurant while wooing Client X into some business?

There is opportunity in all experiences. We can see the glass half full or half empty. We can choose to view the duties of life like scrubbing toilets, taking out the trash or washing windows as drudgery. Or we can be grateful for all that we have.

I may never be in love with the IRS, but I am happy for the chance to remember all that I experienced in 2012.

May your tax season be merry, bright, painless and short. And may those forms remind you of how great your life truly is.

 

Hope Never Dies

Spring’s first day is a treasured one in my heart. It is the promise of renewal, of new beginnings, of the ending of winter and of the coming of Nature’s bountiful hues.

spring's hopeOn the heels of winter’s silence comes the orchestra of the song bird, reminding us that things are always evolving in the cycle of life.

Hope springs eternal. Spring is hope.

As a consumate optimist, I see the possibility in all things. So even underneath the blanket of snow that covered our ground for nearly five months with little reprieve, I knew the Earth was waiting in all its juiciness for today: the first day of Spring. It was gestating, pondering about what new creations would spring forth from itself, helping those bulbs along, offering nourishment, rest and perfect timing.

All good things come in good time.

For an optimist like me, hope never dies. It just sometimes changes form ~ like the seasons and the goodness that each one brings.

 

The Newness of You

The human body is comprised of 50 trillion cells. That’s a lot of action happening underneath the surface of ourselves.

Every seven years our organs are completely regenerated.

And any time we want, we can create a new way of being by simply choosing to do so.

No matter what your circumstances are, you can discover your own newness by simply taking a look in the mirror. Who do you see?

If you don’t like what’s staring back at you, ask yourself why. Do you need more self-acceptance? Do you need to change the way you see things altogether? Or is there something fundamental about yourself that you need to examine?

Not all of us are ready to take that deeper look within. It’s not the 50 trillion cells we will see, but an even more profound experience of who we really are.

We are beings of light. If you are going at the speed of light, you won’t be able to see yourself at all. Because going at the speed of yourself will cause everything, including you, to disappear.

Slow down. Breathe. Listen.

All the answers you will ever need reside within you.

 

 

The Chain of Events

Do you believe in chance? You know, those ‘chance meetings’ or events that sculpt our lives in unforseeable ways?

I like to think of such things as fortune.

Life is an unfolding mystery, yet it seems as if it is scripted in some ways too.  Some people believe past lives inform our current ones. For the longest time I didn’t understand that, but life has taught me that there is something to be said about karma and our connection with others.

Just today I was passing by a café that I visited a few years back. I was reminded of a ‘chance’ moment in which I picked up a newspaper and read a feature article about a local filmmaker. Long fascinated by the movie-making process, I read the article with great interest. Then four months later I happened to pass by a movie theater that was playing that particular movie for the very last time. The show was to start in 15 minutes so I grabbed a ticket and watched it.

And then, by chance, I noticed the credits and the name of a local TV and film casting agency, which I googled when I got home. I added my profile to their Web site and started a new phase of my life behind and in front of the camera.

All because I stopped for a coffee that fall.

One nudge in a certain direction can change everything.

And that’s a very good thing.

We can look at many moments in our lives in which we meet perfect strangers who give us a nugget of wisdom (trains are great for that!) that further us in our journey. It is a part of the secret that is slowly revealed to us all.

If you doubt that your life is informed by a chain of events, look closer and you will see everything happens for a reason.

It’s your fortune. It’s your life. It’s your time.

May you be blessed on your journey, wherever it leads you.

 

The Wicked Winds of March

March can be a cruel month. The snow melts, the sun beams, the flowers peek their noses above the earth’s surface. And then, just when you least expect it, a snowstorm pelts you back into winter again.

Life can be like that too. Setbacks are a part of our existence, and yet they often send us reeling back to places we’d rather not be. Expectations go unfulfilled and we wonder what’s the sense of it all.

But if we slow down our pace to actually tune into what’s happening in the subtext of our lives, we will realize that what is happening is the very best thing for us in that moment.

Oh sure, we might wail, flail and flounce about wishing things were different (kind of like when you have your heart set on wearing that skimpy dress only to find out it’s subzero temperatures outside). But if we embrace everything that happens to us as the Universe cradling us in our very best interest, well, things don’t looks so bad after all.

I have to laugh out loud at the humor of the Universe. It places people in our path just when we need them. As one person told me last fall, you always find what you are looking for.

If you are looking to live life to the fullest, you’ll be sure to get that experience.

If you are looking to stay safe within the confines of the life you have built, you’ll get that.

If you are looking to break free from convention and really taste all that life has to offer, by golly! It’ll be on your plate in a snap.

We really are the masters of our own ships. We have more control than we realize. We can work with the clock to make every moment count and we can choose how we spend our days…and with whom.

If that cruel March wind has knocked you down, remember that warmer times are coming. Keep the fire in your heart burning and you will get back on track.

Joy can be yours for the asking even if the storm just won’t stop howling around your ears.

The Progress Principle

Being at a standstill can be the most frustrating experience for a recovering speedaholic like myself. Although I know there is power in slow, there are moments when setbacks make it feel like the world is going to end.

Apparently, I am not alone in this. According to Harvard’s Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer, authors of The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work, setbacks are one of the major causes of ennui and disengagement amongst workers.

People need to feel they are moving forward with things, even if it is slow-going.


Collaboration helps. According to the authors, deep engagement and creativity stems from a collaborative work setting in which you don’t feel alone. I know I always feel better when my team is sharing the burden of the work, not just me.

Real progress triggers positive emotions like satisfaction, gladness, even joy. It leads to a sense of accomplishmnet and self-worth as well as positive views of the work and, sometimes, the organization. (page 68)

Poor managers forget the importance of giving meaning to the work people are doing. In fact, most still think people are motivated mostly by extrinsic rewards such as higher pay, bonuses or other benefits. People are actually more accutely motivated by a positive inner work life; that is, when they feel they are contributing to something greater than themselves, feel recognized for it and can have fun while doing it.

The book outlines four ways to negate meaning:

  1. Dismiss a person’s work.
  2. Take away ownership from the person.
  3. Doubt that the work will ever come to fruition.
  4. Menial tasks for which the worker is overqualified.

The progress loop, on the other hand, requires, well, progress, a feeling that you are getting somewhere and that your efforts are meaningful. That fosters a more positive inner work life, which, in turn, contributes to more progress and so on.

Setbacks are the major progress killer, leading to negative emotions and disengagement.

Great leaders are catalysts for positive change or even emotional nourishers.They recognize the human component and its importance in their organization.

Never underestimate the power of sincere acknowledgement. If someone in your life is doing something you appreciate, tell that person. It’s amazing how you will rock their world with your words.

The human connection is so valuable in our lives. If you feel disconnected from your job, consider how you might measure some progress in it. Reach out to a colleague. Exchange ideas. It can take you out of that vicious cycle into a virtuous one with more joy than you can imagine.

Simple Pleasures

The greatest pleasures in life are free.

Take laughter as an example. Do it daily. You’ll live longer…and better too.

Or how about sunshine? On days when the sun is beaming, let the rays shower your spirit (use sunscreen, of course!).

Connecting with dear friends is another way to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. A phone call, a Skype chat, or time over coffee are great ways to solidify relationships. Time with friends is time well-spent indeed.

Or what about discovering that first bulb of springtime? Those snowdrops that rise triumphantly from the ground as harbingers of warmer times? They can skyrocket your pleasure levels in an instant.

Making new friends is truly pleasurable, if only it turns out to be a brief encounter in time. A smile shared with a stranger on a train or a kind gesture as you let someone in front of you in traffic can increase your quality of life.

Goodness can be had anywhere. And with it the pleasures that life offers every day.

How will you experience simple pleasures today?