Browsing the archives for the life tag

How to Reboot Life Systems

Change, Life as it is

I spend quite a bit of time around computer and communications systems, both at home and at work. As a result, I occasionally have a system get stuck or need to be reset – that is restored to a known working situation with the system in a healthy state. Sometimes starting with a clean slate it all it takes to get past a problem, other times, it simply creates a starting point to solve problem.

Telecommunications Junction

I also have my life systems sometimes get stuck as well – because of a system crash such as a lack of housekeeping input causing the living-comfortably-at-home system to halt because of unacceptable disarray. Or as another example, I may be overwhelmed when I have too many challenges to handle at any one time, and this may affect any number of systems in home. This is where having a good methodology to reboot the hung systems is handy.

Most computers have simple ways to restart them when you need to. It may be a couple of mouse clicks, or a keystroke combination such at CTRL-ALT-DEL, that does it – but its a simple process that is often a first step in getting things working again. Unlike a blue screen of death I usually don’t have an external notice that systems are not working, rather it comes from listening to my own state of satisfaction. When systems in my life are working properly, I feel a sense of contentment – when a reboot is necessary it’s usually through a growing discontent with something I am doing or not doing.

I have a couple systems of living that are very helpful to me. I can’t say I do them perfectly – or even just very well, for that matter – but they are both good life systems, because they both have reboot methods built into them. They are David Allen‘s Getting Things Done (GTD) and the FlyLady‘s processes for decluttering and getting rid of CHAOS. (For those who don’t know the FlyLady, CHAOS is an acronym for Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome.)

In the book, Getting Things Done, David Allen writes:

Think about the last time you felt highly productive. You probably had a sense of being in control; you were not stressed out; you were highly focused on what you were doing; time tended to disappear; and you felt you were making noticeable progress towards a meaningful outcome….

And if you get seriously far out of that state – and start to feel out of control, stressed out, unfocused, bored and stuck – do you have the ability to get back into it? That’s where the methodology of Getting Things Done will have the greatest impact on your life, by showing you how to get back to “mind like water” wit all your resources and faculties functioning at a maximum level.

Falling off the wagon on any new system of living is easy – I’m doing it all the time it seems. But knowing how to get back on track is the key though. With GTD, I know I need to get my list out (I use MonkeyGTD for my lists) and renegotiate my own commitments to myself and to start gathering and processing again. That’s the beauty – it is that easy to start making prgress – to reboot to a known working state.

And for days like today when I feel overwhelmed by my home and the work it needs, Flylady always starts at the same place. What is the condition of my kitchen sink? And today was no exception – I went to the kitchen and started on the sink. Soon it was clean, and the cleanliness started spilling over to the surrounding countertops until my kitchen was done, and that lead me to working on other parts of the house. I know that next I will be working for 15 minutes a day and also working on being mindful of my bedtime and waking routines.

The point is, I didn’t have to wonder what to do to get rebooted and get systems back to a known running state. Before FlyLady, I would have wandered the house feeling overwhelmed and not knowing how to start working on so much to do. Before GTD, I would just leap into the closest fire and leap from one out-of-control mess to another, burnout and watch things crash again.

I wish I was always in control of all areas of my life. The good news it that instead of needing a systems that always stay in a steady state of harmony, I can make do with just knowing how to correct my course whenever I start to drift.

How do you reboot the portions of your life that seem to get hung up?

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When Gratitude Flows

Life as it is, Spiritual Journey

I love gratitude. I love it like a thirsty man loves water. I need it like a man needs water, too.

Sliding Down the Falls of Time

I need it, but I so often am without it. I can tell because I start feeling like things should be better. Maybe you know the feeling? I am lacking gratitude when I find myself comparing the way things are with the way I think things really should be. It doesn’t matter what I am looking at – maybe comparing something I tried to accomplish with what I actually got done. Maybe I am comparing how someone treated me with my own ideal of how i deserve to be treated.

Either way, there is a certain dissatisfaction that comes up. A resentment arises against the way things are. That’s the thirst.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.
— Melody Beattie

So the question becomes, how do we go get a drink of gratitude when we need it? I can’t just will gratitude inside me – I know, I’ve tried. But surprisingly it’s possible for me to just go do a few simple things that let me start getting in touch with it again.

For me, it always starts with making a list of things that I am grateful for – for example, when doing this in my car (and I seem to do this a lot when I am in my car), I start with my car. Because no matter how much Houston traffic may be sucking my joy right out of me, it is still better than walking everywhere I need to go.

Oh hell, I could probably use a gratitude list right now, and it seems the easiest way to illustrate what i am saying:

I am grateful right now for…
…having this place to share my thoughts
…for the people on twitter chatting away in another window on this desktop (they are awesome)
…my house, because it is cold and wet outside and I am neither of these things
…Internet radio (listening to blip.fm at the moment)
…great conversations I had last night at Coffee Groundz
…a day of hanging out with my son
…Ethiopian Sidoma coffee
…Maire Brennan’s Celtic music of hope and faith (yes, the music changed)

Yes. A comforting sip of clear and cool water soothing my mouth and throat as I swallow it. I wasn’t even aware of how thirsty I was until just feeling the quenching of that thirst.

And I can even make it better! There are people associated with some of the things on that list. By telling them how I feel right now – enriched, warm, grateful – because of what they gave me, I can share it and make it grow. I need to remind myself that my life is this rich and wonderful because of the the other people that I am connected to – whether by social media and in person.

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.
— Cicero

What about you? What are you grateful for? Please leave a comment with your list – even if it’s only one or two things Better yet, after you make your list, share whether making it changed how you feel or see the world. (And if you see something that you like in the comment of another, let them know.)

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Rejoicing in my Imperfections?

family, Life as it is, Mistakes, Spiritual Journey, Vulnerability

I found a note in some old writing of mine that says, “If I ever figure out how to celebrate my imperfections, why, I could have a life of constant celebration.”

My inner critic has really been kicking up a storm lately. I was complaining to someone about how I broke a promise to my son to run an errand for him tonight, and that my teen aged daughter was having an emotional meltdown concerning the telephone. I found myself yearning to be a better dad than I am, and to have better skills than I have, and be better organized than I am.

This is the point where I usually will excuse myself for a short self-pity break. Then I came across this brief story in some of my old journals:

A man visited his Rabbi. He sat and said that he had spent his life trying to live according to what the Rabbi taught, but after all these years he had gained nothing. He was still an ignorant and foolish man. The Rabbi turned to him and said, ”But you have gained an awareness that you are ignorant and foolish, and that is something.”

And now, things are still the same in my home. It is hard to be a single father of two teens. It is hard to stay organized and work like i do and also have my own hobby and life. And I have spent a lot of time working and studying and learning and trying and counseling and being counseled and still I am not the father and man I want to be. No matter how long it seems I have been traveling this road, I am just not there yet.



But, I have gained an awareness of the fact that I am not yet the man I want to be. And that awareness of my imperfections is something of value. And it must really be something too, because i can almost catch a glimmer of what it is to celebrate my imperfections and that there is such a well-perceived gap between who I am and who I want to be.

Tonight I celebrate my imperfections. Tomorrow, I will continue my journey. Who will join me in the party and the adventure?

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Twitter and I

Mistakes, Twitter

As a part of admitting my error in letting my blog become only an echo of my tweets from twitter these past months, I thought i would start in looking at Twitter itself.

A little over four months ago, in a small forum for local photographers, someone brought up Twitter, and how many of us were using it.  I know that previously phone numbers would be made available on links at twitter.com to reach people for gathering together – but that was almost all that I knew about twitter.  Well, ok, that’s not true.  I did also know that it was getting bigger – because more people i knew were using it, and i was seeing all sorts of integration tools for twitter as well.

So I decided to ask the group a question:

How do you use it, what do you get out of Twitter? What does a twittered life have that is so cool?

And I got all sorts of answers that mostly seemed to say, “try it and see”.  I researched it further and found the professionals equally perplexed at Twitter’s success.  In fact, Twitter seems to have been a spin off of a larger tech startup where this one small piece had greater value than the whole.

Even the reviewers did not seem to have good answers:

So why has Twitter been so misunderstood? Because it’s experiential. Scrolling through random Twitter messages can’t explain the appeal. You have to do it — and, more important, do it with friends. (Monitoring the lives of total strangers is fun but doesn’t have the same addictive effect.) Critics sneer at Twitter and Dodgeball as hipster narcissism, but the real appeal of Twitter is almost the inverse of narcissism. It’s practically collectivist — you’re creating a shared understanding larger than yourself.
Clive Thompson on How Twitter Creates a Social Sixth Sense

So I created an account and tried it out.  I soon was able to put together a model in my head for what it was – but it didn’t answer for me the question of what it did.  It reminded me of IRC – the old Internet Chat standard – except everyone was starting “muted” or silent and I had to find and turn on each one to hear them.  I also had to get my friends to join in, and there were concerns for what a time-sink this could be.

And so that is how i ended up letting merewisdom.org become a twitter echo only.  I found myself listening to my friends navigating their days.  Small details – never more than the 140-character limit of Twitter – of my friends’ lives surfaced.  Listening to a couple of friends planning dinner with one another, or someone else sharing a new web site, or being able to tweet a question to my group of friends and get many answers back.  That’s what Twitter did for me.

A sonar ping only carries so much information about where ships or obstacles are at that moment, but over time it can paint a detailed landscape of information about what each ship or obstacle is doing, and who is on or off course.

Of course, Twitter is still a part of my life and this blog.  i just won’t let it replace my own landscape imagery.  You deserve more than just a sonar map of my life and my errors and my occasional lessons i have learned.

You deserve a guided tour….

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The Choice to Abandon Myself

Life as it is, Spiritual Journey, Vulnerability

While I was in Dallas for my daughter’s hospitalization, I attended several support meetings. In one of these, someone read a small chapter of a book. It didn’t hold my interest, but caught me in the last sentences. They said in effect:

You may feel abandoned by those who you counted on. But we still have choices – only we can decide whether to abandon ourselves.

And this hit me pretty hard. Because I had been feeling pretty abandoned by my former bride and her decision to leave the state and move thousands of miles away while I raise two teens, one of whom has special needs. But it was that last idea – the one of abandoning myself that I had never looked at.

But it certainly fit to some degree. I had gone out and bought a video game to escape into from the hotel room after the first few days. In very little time, I found myself wanting to play rather than attend to phone calls I needed to make or e-mails that needed to be written. I told myself that as hard as everything had been, I deserved these breaks. I needed the escape.

Looking at the word, I found the following:

a·ban·don
tr.v. a·ban·doned, a·ban·don·ing, a·ban·dons
1 – To withdraw one’s support or help from, especially in spite of duty, allegiance, or responsibility; desert: abandon a friend in trouble.
2 – To give up by leaving or ceasing to operate or inhabit, especially as a result of danger or other impending threat: abandoned the ship.
3 – To surrender one’s claim to, right to, or interest in; give up entirely.
4 – To cease trying to continue; desist from: abandoned the search for the missing hiker.
5 – To yield (oneself) completely, as to emotion.

It was this first definition that caught my attention. Sure my life was difficult, but one of the things that keeps it difficult are all of the things I keep telling myself I will do – and then never get around to doing. Or worse, doing the first 95% of the task, and then deciding that was enough for now – time to go play a game. And then never returning to the task….

Isn’t that abandonment? In that first definition it talks about duty and responsibility as what is being spited in this stuff. An I saw my poor inner child being left behind, not by others but by myself.

So this past week, I have been trying to stay in the present moment with myself. Paying bills when medical expenses has stripped the accounts to the point that there isn’t enough to go around. Making calls, sending FAXes and signing documents that need it even though it hurts to do so.

And in doing so, I have been reminded that this shit hurts. Nothing like turning into the storm and trying to hit the waves bow first (to avoid being capsized) to see just how big they are and want to be somewhere else. No wonder I keep wanting to escape! Abandon ship!

But me and my life is the ship….

So maybe there are those who captain their lives and navigate storms and fair weather and this just seems like basic lessons. Captaining Onje’s Life 101 is a course I never saw advertised. Are some just born with this ability? Or does it take something opening our eyes to the way things are to show us what we do to ourselves?

I don’t know, but I believe there is hope through the storm. After all, look at the word, “abandon” when it stops being an action and becomes instead a thing of substance. That is, a noun:

a·ban·don
n.
1 – Unbounded enthusiasm; exuberance.
2 – A complete surrender of inhibitions.

Imagine being able to captain a life like that. Until then, I need to keep bailing and staying at the helm.

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