The Deliciousness of Deleting

Deliciousness has many flavors and nuances to it. It can be a wonderful summer night, the first taste of watermelon, or a slow dance with your sweetheart. But deliciousness also has a practical side that can bring about just as much peace and joy. And I call that the deliciousness of deleting.

One of the common complaints my clients tell me about is too much clutter and not enough time. When I ask them if they have 15 minutes a day, three days a week, to transform the clutter in their life, they say, “Yes, of course.” I tell them to buy a timer, put on great music, and pick a pet peeve project and “Get delicious with their decluttering!”

For me, my pet project is my desktop. The clarity of thought I have when I sit down to a clear desktop is profound. All sorts of creative ideas and thoughts bubble to the surface.

When I get stuck in the “more is better” ideal by adding projects, ideas and things “to do” list, things can get out of control. I find that setting a timer for 15 minutes, putting on great music, and playing “beat the clock” with my inner Oscar Madison, is a rejuvenating experience. If you think of it, 15 minutes a day, 3 days a week = 3 hours a month on creating a sane and scintillating life. Big builds on small.

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Don’t Get Nailed By E-mail!

Getting nailed by e-mail looks like the following things:

1) Have an e-mail exchange that would have served you better via phone or in person so you could get those extra cues we need as human beings, i.e. voice, body language, pauses, etc.
2) Frittering a whole morning of time away in a trail of not very important e-mails that could have been answered during your “no brain capacity needed” times of the day instead (you know the 4p.m. late day crash that most of us experience).
3) A silly but substantive mistake (i.e. sending reply all, including someone else by mistake) because you were in a rush, didn’t pay attention, or in the glaze of “the virtual vortex” that we all deal with.
Lastly, it takes 64 seconds to re- calibrate the brain after it’s been interrupted by an e-mail, not even time to answer or read the e-mail. Bottom line, 8.3 hours per week of productivity are lost in the process. Wouldn’t you like an extra one day of week to move forward towards your dreams? Books have been written in less time than that per week, over an extended period of time.
So given the fact that e-mail and smartphones are not going anywhere because they do serve important functions in our evolving world, how do you navigate the virtual communication tools of this decade so you don’t get nailed by e-mail? Here are ones that I’ve found to be useful to both myself and my clients:

1)    Do your most important task first WITHOUT E-MAIL.

2)    Buy a timer and set it for 15 minutes and ask yourself the exact intention for this e-mail session. For example, using a session to maintain high priority relationships, catch up with a few seemingly lost friendships that you miss, or connecting with a few clients are all legitimate needs. The more specific you are what you want to use that time for, the less chance you will fall prey to the perils of e-mail. When the timer goes off, switch activities to higher priority or get real, saying out loud, “I am now giving another 15 minutes to e-mail,” and reset the timer so you aren’t in shock when your whole day has flitted by and you don’t know why “I didn’t get anything done.”

3)    Use your friend connection time as part of a reward and again time it accordingly (yes and I do mean with a timer).

4)    After two to three rounds of back and forth with a particular person, it would most likely be best handled by a 5 minute conversation. Disengage and actually use this archaic communication tool called the phone to make an appointment for after work to speak (if it’s not an urgent work related matter).

5)    Whenever possible, use your crash and burn low blood sugar time of the day to take a break and answer your e-mails. You wouldn’t have the mental bandwidth to be tackling your more high priority or learning curve items during that time anyway, so even if you go a little unconscious you will not have had a great loss.

6)    Whenever possible make a date to speak with someone rather than e-mail unless they are long-winded and you have a hard time getting off the phone, it can get handled more effectively in an e-mail, or you know the person IS NOT a phone person.

7)    See e-mail and social media as a supplement not a foundational part of your creating community.

The Body Doesn’t Lie!

One of my daily mantras that I attempt to live by is “The Body Doesn’t Lie.”

I have recently become a fan of Adele’s work, her emotional depth, the pure exquisiteness of her voice, and her very creative videos. Being a fellow “hour glass figure with extra sand in the hourglass” type of gal has definitely won favor with me as well. Last month, I was reading her interview in Cosmopolitan and it was a confirmation of what I know to be true about our bodies: they carry extraordinary wisdom, and are inextricably connected to our minds.

In the interview, she mentioned that between her intense travel and performance schedule she had developed some vocal issues, and had to not only take a break, but cancel a few dates. As the article progressed, she spoke about how she’s actually a lot more content than her music leads people to believe, albeit she has struggled with one relationship woe after another. In certain instances, she even tried to go back and apologize to past partners for any upset she caused. Still something inside told me that there was something going on with her voice, even as much as a relentless performance and travel schedule can wreak havoc with an instrument like hers.

I sensed there was some kind of conflict going on within her that somehow landed in her vocal chords (the throat chakra is all about creative expression). I kept wondering if there was some other way where she wasn’t able to own her voice, and as a result this conflict was manifesting for her physically.

The last line confirmed my instinct. I am paraphrasing, but in essence she said that she wants her next album to be mostly upbeat songs and that she hopes people will be interested in music that is not about heartbreak.

In that moment I thought of the power of conflicting needs; in her case the need to sell albums and keep her fans happy, and a deep desire to express herself in a totally different way. These needs were at odds with each other; and that this conflict was somehow showing up in her body: her throat to be exact.

Of course this is conjecture and I’m not a doctor or psychic as to know what the true nature of her condition is, however I was reminded of the body/mind connection. I was reminded of all the clients I’ve worked with both privately and in groups. When I had them go inside and get their body’s pulse about how they felt about a particular goal, it always amazed them what a wealth of information their body provided for them. On a conscious level we can easily say we want X, and yet when we breathe just below the surface and bring our body into the mix, we often find our conflicting needs. Perhaps their bodily response was terror, lifelessness, threat, or total exuberance. No matter what it always pointed me to the principle that I know to be true; “The Body Doesn’t Lie!”

In this world of record of dizzying distractions, feeling like “talking heads” spending so much time in front of computers (just what I’m doing now!), and “virtual” communication, it’s easy to feel disconnected from one’s body thus severing you from such an important font of wisdom.

If you recognize these feelings, here are some principles to get you back in dialogue with your body:

1)    Soul-ful exercise- Exercise that inspires and enlivens you. Forget what the best workout is for you and choose the one that gives you most pleasure and vitality. For me, it’s Zumba, Power Dance and Belly Dancing. For you it may be yoga, long walks, Martial Arts, jogging, or weight training.

2)    Body Check in and Scan– Take a few times out during the day, to stop, breathe, close your eyes and just sense what’s going on in your body. What is the energy? Where are you holding, or need to release? It’s amazing how short a time it takes and how long the dividends of connecting with your body last. Check in with your body when you need to make some important decisions. Remember it has its own wisdom that is less connected to ego, and “shoulds.”

3)    Get interested in your body when you’re upset- It’s amazing we often shut down or try to numb ourselves when we’re upset. Do the opposite. Stop. Breathe. Close your eyes and track the upset on a bodily level. Where is the tightness? What’s the image coming up in your mind? What type of sensation is it similar to? Get out of your commentary, “I’m angry because,” and just scan your body. You’ll be surprised that often feelings are meant to just be felt, and don’t always have to be dramatic or long-standing in their maintenance.

4)    See your body as a sacred messenger– When you get sick, have an accident, or it’s not “doing what you want it to do,” (we often treat our bodies like servants that are there to work for us), ask your body for guidance in what it’s trying to tell you, or what you need to do to support it? In one year, I broke the same toe twice, and dislocated another one. Talk about needing to slow down and focus on keeping my feet on the ground!

Lastly, appreciate your body for where it is, even if the shape, size, form or tone is not your ideal scenario. Instead see it as the truth teller, a reliable resource to tune into reminding us that “the body doesn’t lie!”

Take Your Vitamin F Daily!

About a month ago, I connected with a new colleague who is quickly becoming a good friend. She embodies what I call “Vitamin F (fun).” She’s just totally fun to be with and no matter how mundane the action may be, like grabbing a soup at Pret a Manger, it somehow becomes an adventure where we start engaging with a counter person or the table next to us or just laughing amongst ourselves.

I am reminded yet again the power of Vitamin F. After most of our interactions, my body’s life-induced “happy drugs,” (endorphins and serotonin) totally kick in and I feel elevated for hours afterwards. I am reminded how powerful fun and laughter is in one’s life.
So why is it that given my proclivity towards laughing I can easily get caught up in “TES”: terminal earnestness syndrome? All of a sudden Vitamin F is missing from my Daily Delight Diet (alliteration is one of my four food groups!). I’m not sure why since my perspective is usually seeing the irony and absurdity in things and getting a good laugh at it!
So below I have listed a good reminder of both states of mind and activities that enhance as well as deplete our Vitamin F from our Daily Delight Diet, in hopes that you will get a few new ideas, or revisit some oldies but goodies, and share some of your own.
Vitamin F- Fortifiers

1)    Follow Your Bliss- When something lights you up, go for it. Don’t overwhelm yourself by making it into a project or your next career move. For example, if you’re craving to dance just put on some music. Don’t make all these proclamations that you’re going to start dancing three times a week for the next 7 years, just dance now for however long you feel like dancing! It’s amazing how honoring a simple desire can amp up your Vitamin F and keep you in your Mojo-Vation mode.

2)    Check in with your heart– Something that looks good on paper often feels flat when we check our enthusiasm level with it. It doesn’t mean that every action you’re going to spring out of bed and say, “Woo-hoo, I get to do my taxes today!” but by checking in with your heart and energy level at least you’ll connect with what’s really going on.

3)    Acknowledge Your “Should” Voice– to dovetail on that previous fortifier, “shoulds” make us tight and contracted and usually if not acknowledged really deplete our energy and Vitamin F. A simple (crazy as it may sound) stamping of your feet and saying, “No, I won’t and you can’t make me,” to give that voice a chance to vent can really open up the circuits. I’ve literally had a few stomping fests (in private of course), where just expressing my resistance to being bullied, I have renewed energy to focus and actually get a dose of Vitamin F from doing things I previously resisted.

4)    Keep a Vitamin F Log– For me, I notice when I get my Vitamin F infusion and list it for when I’m feeling in a rut. I’ve recently learned that I’m a scanner (read “Refuse to Choose,” by Barbara Sher, brilliant book and concept), so for me a variety of visual stimuli, colors, textures, music, dance, learning something new and social interaction with like-minded people totally rejuvenates my energy. When I need a Vitamin F infusion going to stores with lots of bling that I can look at and touch, or taking a learning break and learning something new revitalizes my soul. Starting conversations with absolute strangers where I can creep into someone else’s life for a few minutes and learn things I would ordinarily never learn (last month it was the history of Helvetica the font and the history of how letters came to be, from a simple 15 minute subway ride) revitalizes me going for hours afterwards.

Vitamin F- Buzz Kills
1) Opting for criticism (self and other) versus curiosity- Totally boring and totally detrimental. When you see yourself being critical (I know that feeling) stop, take a breath, and strike a ridiculous “How fascinating!” pose like a mock Freud posture, or a pensive “The Thinker” freeze. Find one inch to become fascinated by even if it’s watching how you go down the critical thought process. I have my clients name their self-critical process. One client named hers, “the whirling dervish of crapdom” mode, and she created a symbol to match it.
2) Thinking too much about what Vitamin F needing to look a certain way- It’s not about sporting a red nose and memorizing jokes, it’s about shifting your perspective.
3) Quit the BMW (Bitch Moan and Whine) Club- I can’t say this enough. When you see yourself and others do it, just stop it! Shift the conversation to something more interesting or laugh at how your BMWing. One day last week I was on a BMW rampage, so I went into my library and took “No Complaining Rule,” off the shelf and decided to follow my own damn advice and devoured the book in one sitting. A more in-depth blog on the very topic is coming. By the way, the need to vent and just feel heard or as I heard it classified, “Empty one’s basket,” is a very healing process, that’s not what I’m talking about here.
4) Poor Self-Care- When you’re overtired, stressed out, or not feeling well Vitamin F feels a mile away. Unless you get totally punchy from being exhausted and Vitamin F can be addressed by an out-of-control laughing fit, I’d suggest going back to basics, getting some rest, making oneself a healthy meal, or doing whatever revives you in the self-care department. Just doing that will provide you the resourcefulness to get your mojo going in the Vitamin F department.
So take your Vitamin F daily and tell me how it’s going! What does Vitamin F look and feel like for you?

It’s January: “Shift Your Perspective, Shift Your Life”

Hi Everyone,

I’m really excited about 2012. I’ve spoken to many people and they too are very excited about this New Year; since last year, was quite a doozie! What I hear from people over and over is the need for more fun, slowing down and doing things differently than in the past. Out of that feedback, rather than employing goal-setting strategies, most of which we already know, I’ve dedicated January to “Shift Your Perspective, Change Your Life,” where I’ll be discussing different ways to do that both internally (beliefs, thoughts and attitudes) but also externally (behaviors and results). While I will share my wisdom and experience and what has worked for myself as well as my clients (both individuals and groups I work with), my intention is to create a community of dialogue where can learn and contribute to each other. So please feel free to comment and share your own experiences as well.
January is “Shift Your Perspective, Shift Your Life”
“Look for the luscious lesson even in the lousy or less than ideal circumstances.”
So here it is, the third year in a row where I earmark the week between Christmas and New Year’s, as the week to slow down my business and do some heavy-duty decluttering of my office, while building some strong infrastructures for the New Year.
It is a mission that my linear Virgo (sun sign) side gets very excited about, and does what it loves to do most; makes lists, calculates time spent, and plugs organizing sessions into my Droid. Ah, the illusion of control! Yet another part of me, probably my SAG moon (the spontaneous social more right-brain aspect) sees this as a total buzz kill and no way to usher in the holiday at all!
So what happens in the midst of all this merriment and mayhem and conflict between my two (believe me, there’s lots more) aspects of self? I get sick. Three years in a row. Not sick enough to be bedridden, in fact my energy level feels good but no mojo whatsoever to do my project. And then the last part, I lose my voice; can’t speak at all.
I share this challenge with a colleague and friend, and we both laugh at the irony of it. In her inimitable wisdom, she says, “I guess a part of you is just not willing to be forced into something it sees as having no joy in doing!”
So, I’m left yet again with my favorite doctrine, “We teach what we need to learn,” and that is I have a wonderful opportunity to extract the luscious life lesson, or in this case the joy, from the less than ideal circumstances.
For me, today, it looks like taking joy in the silence with the outer world (I’m on vocal rest today) so that I can cultivate what my inner voice is telling me. When I check in, I have a craving to write my blog, rest, flush my system out with lots of ginger tea and fluids, do some gentle movement or exercise, and even declutter a bit. This time it’s from an inner invitation versus me bullying myself to do something that a part of me is in total rebellion from doing.
I truly believe that whatever is going on in one’s life there is always an opportunity to look for the luscious life lesson. In doing so, we tap into our innate resourcefulness to see things from a more expansive vantage point that allows us to grow as individuals. In doing so, we not only embrace change, but actually thrive in it.
So I ask you, what “lousy” at worst, or “less than ideal” at best, circumstances are you having in your life where you can look for the luscious life lesson? I’d love to know!
Scintillating Self-Inquiry
Here are some questions I ask myself and my clients, that often serve as a catalyst to look for the luscious life lesson?
  • If the scenario that you’re dealing with was on Seinfeld, (or your favorite sitcom) how would your favorite characters spin it, so that you can actually crack a smile, or a deep belly laugh? (Irony and absurdity is almost always present, if we just seek it out)
  • What is the lesson you need to learn or re-learn from this circumstance in your life?
  • If your friend, spouse or family member came to you with this same challenge, what advice or wisdom would you give?
  • What core values or qualities do you have an opportunity to develop through this particular challenge?
Here’s to a growing and glowing near year! I look forward to hearing from you!