Archive for the ‘needlepoint’ Category

Habits

July 29, 2017

Smiling woman snapping cigarette in half

Last week I was talking about organizing time or rather organizing what you do to make the best use of your time. I told you that your habits and routines can help or hinder you in this regard. Today I’m talking about habits.

Do you have habits? What are they? I have a habit of waking up early in the morning. I love this. There’s a hush outside. Usually the air is still. It’s so early the birds aren’t even up yet. I love to sit outside with my cup of tea and listen. Slowly, the birds start talking to each other, then the squirrels start scurrying around and the day dawns. This is one of my habits. I definitely don’t want to change it.  

My habit of getting up early and quietly contemplating the day ahead allows me to start my day stress free. I am relaxed and ready to put my energy into the day ahead. I love this habit.

I did have a terrible habit.

I used to smoke cigarettes. Back when I was very young and thought it was cool to smoke. This habit caught on with me and I smoked a lot, particularly when I was playing bridge. We (the four of us) would light our cigarettes, put them in the ashtray and let the smoke billow around us as we studied  our cards. I smoked for about 3 years. Then, I got sick with pneumonia. The doctor told me not to smoke. Truthfully, I didn’t want to. I was having a hard enough time just breathing. I never picked that habit back up. I think it was easy for me to break or change that habit because of the circumstances.

What if I want to change a habit now? Perhaps I should ask, what if I want to replace an old habit with a new one?

Some habits are like a warm, comfy, soft sweater. They are easy. We know what they feel like. We don’t even need to think about them – they just sort of happen; like the early morning habit I described above.

Other habits are more like a scratchy sweater. You wear it because it’s handy but it bothers you. You take it off only to put it back on because you don’t have a replacement sweater handy.

When you want to change a habit it is easier to have an idea of the habit you want to create – your replacement habit.

For instance, let’s say you’re in the habit of having a cookie after dinner. You don’t really think about it, you just grab a cookie and snack away. You’ve decided you’d like to eat more fruit. You want to replace the habit of eating a cookie with eating some grapes. Remind yourself by putting a post-it note on the cookie jar. It might say: Eat Grapes! Have snack size bunches of grapes in an easy to grab spot.

After a while you won’t need the reminder post-it. It does take time and mindful practice to create a new habit. It also takes great will-power. If you have a reason for changing your habit, remind yourself in visible notes of that reason. Maybe you want to eat healthier or loose a pound or two.  Maybe you want to have a little ‘me time’ in the early morning. Some time to yourself before engaging with the rest of your family and your list of to-dos.

My habit in the evening used to be that I would work on my needlepoint while watching (really listening) to television. I got out of that habit but it’s something I want to start again. I have a beautiful canvas, that will become a pillow, that’s about half-way finished. I really want to finish it, and I can if I would just get it out and stitch away for an hour or so in the evening. To remind myself I have a post-it on the tv remote that simply says: Stitch!

Is there a habit that you want to create or renew? Write me back and let me know!

 

Happiness is…?

October 19, 2016

2015 05 beautiful roses

At the end of September I had the privilege of attending a conference run by a group to which I belong: The Institute for Challenging Disorganization. I love this conference. In fact I love it so much that I decided to demonstrate that by chairing the conference in 2017! But I digress.

One of our speakers was a young woman, Ayla Lewis, who spoke to us about the power of positive thinking and happiness. Her presentation was well thought out, fun, and interactive. Ayla had a marvelous way of engaging the audience to teach the concepts she was presenting.

Many of the concepts presented were not new to me and I’m sure not new to many of us there. However; Ayla included scientific information to substantiate these concepts. It was fascinating.  

So, what is happiness? Ayla told us that happiness is a choice. I believe this to be true. I’m one who likes to look at a glass and say that it is half full rather than half empty. I’m always looking for the positive spin and am generally happy. Or should I say content.

We were told that no one is always happy. We have moments of happiness. It’s more important and better for us if we often experience small moments of happiness rather than striving for that one big fleeting moment to be happy. Have you ever heard someone say ‘I’ll be happy after I …’ or perhaps ‘I’ll be truly happy when I’ve …’ I have heard people say things like that and wondered if they ever had those moments of happiness. And how long the happiness lasted.

Ayla advised us to use journaling to record the brief happy moments that occur during the day. She asked us to write down three things daily. If you’re looking for the small things I’m sure any one of us could find way more than three things to write down.

Let me tell you a little story. I attended a wedding last weekend in Connecticut. An adorable three year old little girl was the flower girl.  She made many of us smile as she ran down the aisle in church during the rehearsal. When she got up to the altar she turned around and faced those of us sitting in the pews, sat down, and just started swinging her legs. She looked like she was waiting there to watch the show begin. She was happy in that moment. And those of us watching her chuckled and were happy too!

Ayla encouraged us to take those moments and savor them. This is happiness. It is something that comes and goes. Celebrate – really be happy – live in those moments when they arrive. It’s ok, in fact, natural, not to be happy 24/7. Acknowledge and experience  other emotions. Then welcome the happy moments as they occur.     

I’ll tell you what makes me happy. Working in my garden, successfully completing a series of dance steps with my partner, getting a phone call from one of my children, getting together with a friend, seeing that a client has maintained the organization, making progress on my needlepoint canvas – all these things create moments of happiness for me.

What makes you happy? 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?

 

 

 

Stuck at Home?

February 12, 2014

Here we go again. I’m in Atlanta and listening to the news reports of the catastrophic storm that is hitting this area. I’m so thankful that the media has given us ample warning this time and that most everyone has followed their advice to stay off the roads. I’m sure you remember the pictures and stories of just a few weeks ago when so many were trapped on the highways around Atlanta.

So, what to do… I’m at home as are many. Are you wondering how to occupy your time? I have some suggestions.

1. Catch up on your paperwork and filing. Take this day when you have to be at home and really clean your desk. Take everything off and only put back those things which you need. Make a pile of things to follow up on – bills to pay, invitations to respond to, emails to answer, documents to file. Make a folder with anything tax related to tackle when you’re ready to prepare your taxes! Take a little break after you clean your desk. Then go back to it and tackle one section at a time. When you’re finished – celebrate! Treat yourself to something wonderful!

2. If you have children at home get out a board game and play the game with them. You could also involve the children in going through their toys, games, stuffed animals. Help them figure out if there are games with missing (never to be found) pieces that should be tossed. Maybe they have outgrown some of the toys and games. Perhaps there are games or toys which they no longer really want. Put those aside to give to younger cousins or to donate to your church nursery school or another charity you support. You accomplish several things by doing this with your children: you teach them how to cull their belongings and you teach them the benefit of giving to others. 

3. Sort through your winter clothes (and your children’s). Put aside anything that still fits and that you still like but that needs mending. Make a separate pile of clothes that don’t fit, are too old, or that you no longer love. These go to a charity of your choice or if they are really tattered – into the trash.

4. Get out a project you’ve been working on and tackle the next step! I have a few more hours work to do on a needlepoint tapestry I’ve been sewing for the past year and am looking forward to finishing it today!

In other words, put this time that you are housebound to good use. No need to be wondering what to do with this day that you’re stuck at home. I’ve told you what I’ll be doing, I’d love to hear from you how you spent your time.

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.