Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Values Clarification

My local organizers group recently held a "mini-conference" and one of the session leaders was Life Coach Pam Austin.

She led us in an exercise that helped us realize our "Core Values" and how once these are clear to us, our priorities are more clear and all decisions we make or actions we take will be based on these, helping us to reach our goals in life. (Quite a condensation of a 2 1/2 hour-long session!)

I found this exercise useful for my very next client, and really, I can see its value for almost every client I come in contact with. It's really where it all starts with organizing or changing habits in order to change the mess or clutter that infiltrates your home or even your social or work calendar. (Remember, people can be clutter, too!) It's a nice reminder for us about what really important, and for some a real clarification we didn't even know we needed. But when you start living your values more intentionally, you start reaching your goals and feeling satisfied on a daily basis, instead of always "waiting" for things to happen or your goals to be met. (Yes, values, like goals can change over time.)

While doing some research on this topic, I found a website/blog that helps you do this on your own. (Of course, I'd recommend going to Pam if you are in the Sonoma County area. 707-544-2348)

But Steve Pavlina has a similar approach in an easy-to-follow method. Click here to begin "Living Your Values, Part I."

And yes, he has a Part II.

If you try it out, let me know how it worked for you and what you think of it.

Happy clarifying!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Wrestling the paper tiger

It's everywhere. And they promised us a few years ago we would be a "paperless" society! Yeah right!

Here are a few quick tips about paper...

Don't let it in the house.
  • If you see a flyer for something while you are out, ask yourself if you really need the information or if you can look at it online later.
  • If you pick up your mail at the post office, take one minute to sort, purge and recycle it right there. Even all the envelopes. They usually have a recycle bin. Ask them to get one if they don't.
Recycle right away at home.
  • Have your recycle bin convenient to where you walk into the house with the mail. Stand (or sit) there and go through it right away, getting rid of all the junk and envelopes.
  • Have a bin or basket to then put all your mail in if you are not able to sort right away. Let everyone in the house know this is where to put the mail. (Fewer lost bills this way.)
More later on how to sort all the stuff and then take action on what needs action. (At the very least, have one folder that says "bills" and throw them in there.)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Days of Weeds and Roses

The Roses of Success (from Chitty Chitty Bang! Bang!)

Every bursted bubble has a glory!
Each abysmal failure makes a point!

Every glowing path that goes astray,

Shows you how to find a better way.

So every time you stumble never grumble.

Next time you'll bumble even less!

For up from the ashes,
up from the ashes, grow the roses of success!

Grow the roses!

Grow the roses!

From the ashes of disaster grow the roses of success!

Spring has come and gone in my neck of the woods. The plum trees are sprouting green plums and the weeds are cropping up in the decomposed granite pathway we put in last summer. (The one I was guaranteed could not be penetrated if weedcloth was underlain—it was—and could not germinate a newly fallen seed.)

As I weeded this path and the beds around it, I began to think of the similarities between gardening and organizing. (And by the way, gardening is a wonderful activity to help you restore focus and increase the capacity of your pre-frontal cortex, helping you to make decisions.)

I thought about last spring when I was hand-pulling weeds from a dense patch in our backyard. California poppies and Miner’s Lettuce (aka Indian Lettuce) were sprouting up between the weeds. Miner’s Lettuce is a lovely native spring salad green that pops up for free in my yard. I wished to save both these species and rid myself of all the other nasty things.

I kept thinking about how this was so much like helping a client wade through mountains of “stuff,” carefully separating treasures from the junk—the weeds from the wildflowers. And how even the wildflowers were creating shelter from the sun (giving comfort to the enemy in my view) for the evil weeds underneath. I had to be extra-careful in my weeding.

This is often true in a client’s home. All the “good stuff” is just creating more hiding spaces for junk, creating more surfaces for dust, and creating shelter for spiders and other crawlies as well. Just as my lovely poppies and lettuce were growing tall, the untended growth beneath of burr clover and other nasties were taking hold, shielded from the hot sun and given a few extra drops of water from their taller, unwitting benefactors. And now and then, I have to sacrifice a "treasure" (a poppy or Miner's Lettuce) in order to get to the "trash" and keep the work going.

We call this section of our yard “The back 40,” not because it is 40 acres, it’s just the last bit we’re trying to landscape ourselves and it seems like 40 acres. It feels overwhelming at times, and the weeds grow back every year. True, there are fewer and fewer each year since we get a little more covered by weed cloth and bark or pathway. But there’s always more. Yet, I know that if I take it on a little at a time—even just get to a few feet of path, I will make headway. And when the weather turns too warm, I will adjust my weeding to the morning hours before the sun beats upon me and wilts me more quickly than the lettuce.

This is the same advice I give clients—if it all seems overwhelming, just take your time and do a little bit every day, even if it just a square foot. Work when you are at your best—be it in the morning or midnight. Know yourself and your own peak times...before you wilt, too.

Garden of Intention
Right now, I am still reacting to what my garden brings me—namely, weeds in new places. I haven’t planted much, i.e. not much has been intentional. Well, we have had some work done, and we accomplished a few projects last summer, but we are still “reacting” to the weeds, and having to re-work areas that if we had finished sooner, we wouldn’t have to deal with weeds (or as many) this year. But again, bit by bit. Little by little. Patience and more “intention” to what we do in the garden. “Own” more if it rather than it owning us. Still allowing for nature’s surprises here and there.

Now go grow your roses!