Archive for the ‘hobbies’ Category

The Rhythm of Life

May 21, 2017

 

Some of you may already know that I love Ballroom dancing. It is a passion of mine and a hobby that I practice between 8 and 10 hours a week. I have a professional partner. He and I participate in Ballroom  Dance Competitions several times a year. My partner tells me to listen to the music and to help him match the pace of our movement to the rhythm of the music. Some music is fast, some slow, some moderately paced.

102, Julio Aguirre_M2016_30322

I was thinking about this the other day as I was getting ready to write this blog.

 

Have you ever noticed that at times the rhythm of our lives can be slow, almost annoyingly slow, and at other times the pace is so fast you can’t believe it – maybe even have a hard time keeping up?

This happened to me over the past two, or is it three, weeks.

It all started the 24th of April. Two friends of mine and I went to hear Elizabeth Gilbert speak. I am a long time Elizabeth Gilbert fan and was thrilled she was coming to Atlanta. The three of us met at my house – early because we didn’t want to get stuck in traffic and because it was free seating at the church. We wanted to be up as close to the front as we could get. Good thing we left early! Traffic was predicted to be bad so we used wayz which directed us around the stuck traffic and got to the church in plenty of time. Even so, there was a line out the door of the church.

We waited in line and at the appointed time were allowed into the church. We got our seats near enough to the front so I was able to get this great picture!

Elizabeth Gilbert

 I have a lot to say about Elizabeth’s presentation and will say more in another blog. This blog is about the rhythm of life. One huge nugget I took home with me was about connecting with people you meet casually. I try not to use the ‘hey, how are you’ phrase as I pass people. My usual greeting is a smile accompanied by ‘hello’. Elizabeth told us a story about a phrase she used while on her most recent book tour. She asked people she met ‘What are you most excited about in your life right now?’ and started conversations based on the person’s response.

 

A few days after this lecture. I went to the NAPO2017 conference in Pittsburgh. I decided before I left Atlanta that I would do something similar and ask the people I met at conference ‘what is one thing you learned from the lecture you just attended?’ This question started all sorts of  wonderful conversations.

Going back to the rhythm of life…

The NAPO2017 conference ended on a Saturday afternoon. I was home by the evening. My dogs were thrilled to have me home. They were not so thrilled to see that my suitcase did not get put away.

Thursday I went to New York City for a long weekend filled with sightseeing. I grew up in the city and had seen some of these places before but it was fun to go with someone who had not. We went to the Top of the Rock at Rockefeller City, to the 911 Memorial Museum, on a boat to see the Statue of Liberty, we walked from the boat all the way through Manhattan to the Empire State Building and even took a pedicab. On Sunday, we met my brother and his wife for brunch. Following brunch, we went to see Beautiful (a Broadway show about Carole King). From there we went to the airport and back to Atlanta.

Top of the Rock

 

It was an action packed few days. My dogs were once again delighted to have me home and even happier to see the suitcase put away.

I’m staying put for a while and am looking forward to taking time to think about the things I learned at the NAPO2017 conference and at Elizabeth Gilbert’s lecture.

I’m so happy to have done the things I did over the past few weeks. The rhythm was fast. I moved from activity to activity and was fully engaged – mindfully present. I want to take time now to reflect on the things I learned and put some of them into practice in my organizing business.

Does this ever happen to you? Do you have times when it feels like you’re moving from one thing to the next without having time to reflect or pause? How do you deal with it?  Do you just roll with it or does it upset your balance?

I admit I really like the change of pace. I get bored when the pace remains the same for too long. Just as I really like the way the rhythm of the music dictates which dance we do I love having some days which are action packed and others that are less full. 

It would be boring if the music at a dance competition was always the same. We’d be doing the same dance over and over. Part of the beauty of dancing is the variety of the dances.

Part of the beauty of life is the variety of activities we can do. Yes, it’s great to have routines to return to but it’s also wonderful to have other things to engage our interest.

How about you? Do you like a change in the rhythm of your life from time to time?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pursue Your Hobby to Improve Your Work

June 29, 2016

Do you have a hobby or sport that you love? My brother loves to play golf. I know that several times a year he and his wife travel to play golf. They combine their love for golf with their love for travel. It’s a win/win. Even though he works at this sport – perfecting his swing, strength training and more, I’m sure – he finds this a great distraction from his regular work. Playing golf allows my brother to focus on something else. Interestingly, having this other outlet makes his focus at work that much greater.

I love to dance. I’ve always been involved in one way or another with dance.  For the past four years I’ve been studying ballroom dancing. What exactly do I mean by that? Well, I’ve been taking ballroom dance lessons and learning the intricacies of this beautiful art – which is also a sport.

There is so much to learn. When I first started taking lessons I thought; great! I’m mastering these steps. My instructor started off teaching me what I thought I already knew – the waltz. We moved from there to the foxtrot and the tango. Great! And then I learned that there was more to this than just moving my feet correctly. My instructor taught me about the continuity of the dance, the rise and fall, the sway, the timing, the musicality and the list goes on…

I went from a lesson a week, to several lessons, to where we are now – practicing 10 hours a week. That works out to be five 2 hour sessions.  I also decided to start competing at ballroom dance competitions. This is an amazing experience. I get to dress up in beautiful ball gowns and demonstrate that which I’ve learned on a huge dance floor, dancing with other beautiful dancers and being judged by a panel of professional ballroom dance judges.

In fact, I just came back from a competition in Orlando. It was fabulous! My partner (also my instructor) and I competed in three different styles of dance: American Rhythm (Cha-Cha, Rumba, Swing, Bolero, Mambo), American Smooth (Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, Viennese Waltz), and Standard (Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, Viennese Waltz, Quickstep).

It was exhilarating and exhausting at the same time.

I’m telling you about this because I believe that participating in something other than what I do professionally allows me to cultivate different sets of skills. I’ve always had a good memory but learning so many different dances and dance styles requires me to focus and memorize dance positions as well as dance steps.

Pursuing this hobby lets me come back to my work refreshed, refocused, and ready to purse my other passion which is creating organizing solutions which work for my clients.

102, Julio Aguirre_M2016_30322What do you do that is different from your work? Do you have a sport you’re passionate about or another hobby? Write me back and let me know.

Can You Ever Really Be Done?

June 15, 2016

 

Close-up embroidery

I want to continue a discussion about getting to the bottom of your ‘to-do’ list. I talked last week about finishing the tasks on your ‘to-do’ list and a strategy I have been using with great success! The strategy is to assign a group of tasks related to a specific topic to a day.

Now, I’m wondering if any of you reading this have ever felt the way I do on occasion. Sometimes I find myself thinking ‘when I get this, this, and this done then I will have time to relax and take care of something I really WANT to do’.

The truth is that there will always be things to do. That’s what life is all about. Some things are chores, some things are fun, some things are hard and some are easy. But there are always, always things to be done whether or not you chose to put them on a list.

How do you fit in the little (or big) things that you want to do that you (I) keep putting off until I get all these other things done? I have decided to schedule time into my weekly plan for the projects that are near and dear to my heart. For me, it’s needlepoint. I have a beautiful needlepoint canvas that I’ve been slowly working on. Actually, I had been thinking about working on it but had been neglecting it as I was so focused on getting other things done!  I had hope to have it finished by the summer. That’s not happening. I had been letting other things take priority over my needlepoint.

Since I started last week grouping my tasks and getting to the bottom of my daily ‘to-do’ list I’ve been able to plan time into my day – every day – for a little needlepoint. I talking about a ½ hour or so. This small change in my routine has made an incredible difference in my ability to feel more in control of all the things (tasks) on my mind.

Is there a small change that you want to make in your routine that will help you feel more in control? Do you have things that you’ve been putting off until everything else is done?

 

 

 

Getting Your Garden Ready

March 16, 2016

Recently I’ve been talking about spring cleaning inside your home. To recap this time of year when the light is newly bright again take the time to open your eyes and really look into all the spaces in your home. Get right into the corners and dark spaces. Clean them. Take the opportunity to look closely at your belongings. Dust them off and put them back or remove them from your home (if you determine they no longer fit your decorating style or lifestyle). Remember that spring lasts a good three months.

Schedule time in your calendar to deep spring clean each area of your home. Tackling your whole home at one time is a daunting and overwhelming task. When you plan it out and break it down into small tasks this project becomes much more manageable.

2015 05 summer mailbox flowers

Now is also the time to take stock of your garden. I should ask, do you like to garden? I do. I love to spend time in my garden! The last few days I’ve been out taking a look at my garden to see which plants are starting to poke their heads out of the earth. I love this time of year when my garden springs back to life! I notice where there are empty spots. Places where plants have not made it through the winter. I’m taking stock and thinking about the different plants I may want to add. While it’s too soon to plant it’s not too soon to make a plan and to decide what you’d like to do with your garden.

My garden is full of shrubs and perennial flowers. Is your garden a flower or vegetable garden? Is it a small cottage garden or do you have lots of space to garden? Are you learning to garden and trying one for the first or second time this year or are you an experienced gardener?

No matter your level of expertise or the size of your garden playing in the earth with plants is a wonderful pastime.

Look at the area in your garden you may want to change. Determine if you’re adding plants in the shade or the sun. If it’s a sunny spot try and calculate how many hours of sun that spot gets. It makes a difference as to which plants you want to consider. Likewise, if it’s a shady spot try and figure out if that area gets any sun at all or if it’s deep dense shade. The amount of sun makes a tremendous difference in the plants that will thrive in a location.

Another thing to consider is the size and color of the plants. Do you need to fill in with some low growing plants in the front of your garden? Maybe you want to add a tall plant in the back to add interest. The possibilities are endless.

Once you have these things figured out you may want to take a trip to your local plant nursery. Generally, the people who work there have great information to share about the plants they carry. They can tell you about how tall and/or bushy a plant will get as well as what you will need to do to promote its continued growth.

Young botanists  in greenhouse

As with everything else this is something that requires a plan. Pull out your calendar and set aside some times to really look at the garden space. It will take several observations at different times of day to figure out the sunlight question. Then schedule time to look at different garden websites to figure out the plants you want to add. Soon enough it will be time to plan the trip to the plant nursery, buy the plants, and plant them!

Garden Maintenance is key but that’s a topic for another time!

Write me back and let me know if gardening is one of your hobbies. If it is what are your plans for this year’s garden?

 

Now What? Compassion Fatigue

September 24, 2015
Senior Woman Being Served Meal By Carer

Senior Woman Being Served Meal By Carer

Last week I attended the Institute for Challenging Disorganization’s Annual Conference. It was a terrific conference! Many of my professional organizer friends from all over the world attend. It’s so great to be able to connect with them in person. The location of the conference varies from year to year. This year it was in Cleveland, Ohio. I, of course, went to the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame (that is a must see) and kayaking on the Cuyahoga River with 4 other conference attendees and a guide.

This conference is always jam packed with awesome speakers. I came home with my head spinning from all that I learned. I thought I’d take the next couple of weeks to share with you some of the golden nuggets of information that will definitely influence my professional organizing services.

Patricia Smith spoke to the group about how to recognize compassion fatigue and what to do about it. So, what is compassion fatigue? Patricia provided us with examples letting us know that someone suffering from compassion fatigue shows symptoms of physical, emotional or spiritual emptiness. This is not a disease but symptoms which are most often present in people who care for those who are in emotional or physical distress.

This is so interesting to me because as a professional organizer I work with people who are sometimes challenged by the enormity of their disorganization. I become deeply involved in helping my clients create solutions to overcome this challenge. Thus making me susceptible to compassion fatigue.

The many people who work as caretakers and constantly give of themselves are also susceptible to compassion fatigue. Caregivers give their time – often putting the needs of others before their own needs. Think about the parents you know. How many hats do they wear? What about nurses and home healthcare workers? The time and energy these marvelous caregivers give to their patients is enormous – perhaps beyond measure.

Patricia Smith taught us that to alleviate the symptoms of compassion fatigue we need to know ourselves. What makes us smile? What fills us up? We, as caregivers, must take care of our own needs in order to care as well as we want to for those for whom we give care. We should put in place a good support system – people we can talk to who will listen to us and our concerns and who will give us constructive advice.

For me, I have three hobbies in which I actively engage and which bring me joy. They fill me up, help to relieve any stress I may feel as a result of my work. These hobbies are gardening, needlepoint, and competitive ballroom dancing. The one I indulge in most often is dancing. I love the music, the physical and metal challenge involved in perfecting the steps I already know and in learning new steps.

Think about yourself. How well do you know yourself? Do you have someone to talk to – a good support system? Do you engage in activities which give you joy, replenish your soul?

What do you think about this topic of compassion fatigue? Do you know someone who may be exhibiting symptoms of compassion fatigue? Is that someone you? I’d love to hear your thoughts. There is more information about compassion fatigue on Patricia Smith’s website: www.compassionfatigue.org

How Do You Show Gratitude?

November 20, 2012

As Thanksgiving Day approaches I have been thinking about all the many things for which I am thankful. The most obvious are my health, my family, my friends, my home, my hobbies, the community in which I live and the fact that I have a job I love. I appreciate all the blessings in my life but am I outwardly showing my gratitude?

One of the ways I demonstrate how thankful I am is to care for my home and garden. I make sure the inside of my home is organized. The items I treasure are displayed. Other items have homes in cupboards and closets. When I need these items I know where to find them and then when I’m finished they go back to their pre-determined home. My plants are watered. Infact, I go around most mornings with a watering can and admire the flowers or the new leaves that are pushing up. It’s easy to show appreciation and thankfullness for my home and garden because they require daily care, daily maintenance, in order to remain as lovely as they are.

What about my family and friends? Every now and then I promise myself that I will stay in better touch with my family and  friends.I have a large family – 2 brothers and 2 sisters, each of them has a family and we are spread out in the north east. I also have 2 sons and a daughter-in-law. My single son is in California and my married son in New York. I admit that I am in in close touch with my children but not as close with the rest of my extended family. This year I began a little weekly friends and family update e-mail. In the message I filled my family and friends in on things that are happening in my life. That lasted about 6 months or so. I skipped a few weeks and those weeks turned into a few months and before I knew it I had lost touch again. The truth is I treasure my family and friends. I am eternally grateful to have them in my life and appreciate the support they show me. I’m not sure they really know how I feel so because we are all so far apart, geographically, I will revert to showing my gratitude by reaching out in e-mails and phone calls.

I show my gratitude to my clients in the small extras I provide and by saying ‘Thank You!’ I do not take them for granted and am thankful for the trust they place in me by allowing me to provide them with my professional organizing services.

Every morning I watch the ‘Eleven Alive’ morning news broadcast. This station promotes what they call ‘Random Acts of Kindness’. I love hearing about the ways a reporter has helped someone in our community or something someone else has done to help a neighbor. It starts my day with a smile and gets me thinking about my behavior for the day. I believe that being kind in general is a behavior that is underrated. We all benefit from acts of kindness. It can be something as small as holding the door for the person behind you or something big like bringing dinner to your local fire station. These acts of kindness bring happiness not only to the recipient but also to the donor.

There is a man who works at my local grocery store. He and I exchange pleasantries when we see each other. He says ‘Good Morning, how are you?’ My reply is typically ‘fine. how are you?’ His answer never fails to get a smile out of me. He always says ‘I woke up today. It is a good day’. This reminds me that I am grateful for each day, that I should make the most of everyday, be thankful for all the blessings in my life and try to ensure that those I love and appreciate know how I feel.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Multiple Interests

April 17, 2012

Do you have multiple interests? I do. I love to garden and now is prime gardening season for me. More on that later. I also love to do fine needlepoint. I have a needlepoint project that I am close to completing and can already see it in its completed form – a pillow! Baking is another interest or hobby I have. My husband loves to have cakes and cookies in the house. His metabolism is so fast that he needs to eat these yummy creations in order to maintain his slim weight – lucky guy!

Then there is my business. This business I run is more than an interest it is a passion and a responsibility. As such it is a priority for me. So how do I keep track of the projects I want to implement or changes I want to make in my business as well as my other hobbies and interests? Another way to ask this question is: how do I make time for my other interests and stay on top of the projects I have going on for my business? I should also say that another interest I have or another place I devote my time is to my home and my family. I bet you have many things that demand your attention also!

So, what to do? Life is a bit of a juggling act. I have written before that I don’t believe in a perfect balance between work life and personal life. Let’s take this one step further and imagine that all my interests (business, family and friends included) are spheres which I can juggle. Dan Thurman (the closing keynote speaker at the NAPO Conference in Baltimore) pointed out that when juggling you have to let go of one thing in order to catch another. He also said that you should never try to do it all at once. Instead, do one thing at a time and do it really well.

Back to my interests and hobbies, how do I apply this advice? I schedule my time carefully. For me it is imperative that I truly focus my attention on the task at hand. This way if I only have a small amount of time to give to that task I will be mindfully present and do my very best. Also, I do not try to do it all every day. There’s no way I can give time to every interest I have or every project I’m interested in every day.  I pick and chose what I do according to the time I have available and the importance of the task. When I’m not working on a particular project it is on the back burner. I know where I left off and will be ready to pick it back up when I next assign some time to that project.

Sometimes I only have a little bit of time to spend on a project but a little bit is better than if I did nothing at all. Just a few minutes ago, after I had my lunch, I went out into my garden for about 15 minutes. It is a gorgeous sunny day and I had a bag to contain any clipping I did or weeds I pulled so that I would not have to go back and pick up after myself. I also had my clippers. I did a little weeding and clipped some beautiful roses which I put in water when I came back inside. All together I spent about 30 minutes – a terrific (green clear my head to get back into work mode) break.

My advice is to identify the ways in which you spend your time. Figure out your priorities. Plan your time so that you are only focusing on one interest at a time and doing it well. As Dan Thurman indicated in his speech nobody starts out juggling 5, 6, or 7 items. You start with one or two and build up to more. So, if you are juggling so many interests that you feel like your head is spinning perhaps you need to scale it back a little. Then, as you are more comfortable add one interest at a time.