Bouncing Back Like Bozo. Part 2

Another thing that is helpful when life's various assaults hit us hard, is to be organized.  When we have too much clutter, too many demands, too many things scheduled, too many obligations, too many of anything we become overwhelmed.  Once overwhelmed have no extra reserves to bounce back to center.  There can be such a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness.  We forget that much of the disorganization is part of our own doing.  If we contributed to it, we can also reverse the situation. 

Being organized is subjective to your personality and temperament. There is a spectrum of disorganization on which some people can withstand more disorganization than another.  For those people leaning more towards the obsessive compulsive side, a kitchen sink not wiped out dry with every use is considered a major stressor. While others on the hoarders side of the continuum see nothing amiss with cardboard boxes and newspaper piles stacked over the entire area of the living, dining, kitchen and bedrooms.  No matter what is the trigger, eventually the clutter and disorganization will impact one's outlook and outcomes. 

There have been studies that children and older individuals (ones with dementia) do well with the concepts of simplicity and organization for the simple fact that it causes less stress whether one recognizes it as such.  When I was designing wellness programs for companies, many of the speakers on stress would talk about organizing one's workspace and keeping it (relatively) clutter free. It takes a lot of time and energy to try and find things when there is much to look through and things are not easily found.

Same can be said of our home keeping.  Having a home that is organized with our stuff makes things so much easier.  Even if chaos is swirling around us, we can rest among some semblance of peace and tranquility. Organization can spill over to how we plan our calendars, our meals, and our days.

Here are just a few suggestions that might help you get started in an effort to be organized:

  • Make your bed in the morning.  I heard a pretty highly ranked military man speak to a college graduation and his one word of advice, "make your bed every morning."  The idea is that you have accomplished one thing already in your day.  A bed is the largest piece of real estate in your bedroom.  When it is unmade, it makes everything else disorganized.  But once made, you can go forth knowing you already did something for the day plus you will have a more restful sleep that night with smooth sheets and blankets.
  • Get rid of 1/4 of your stuff.   Most people have way too much junk in their houses.  I know that we do.  If, God forbid, we had a fire and most of our stuff were ruined, I probably wouldn't replace it.  Telling huh?  I try and routinely go through sections of the house with a ruthless eye, "If I lost this in a fire, would I replace it?"  If the answer is no and it is something that isn't useful or beautiful- out it goes.
  • One thing in, one thing out.  My mother-in-law has had this rule.  For anything she brought into the house, she got rid of something from the house.  Makes sense when you have limited space. 
  • Straighten your desk before you leave work for the day.  You will come into your space the next morning prepared to tackle the day.
  • Take time each week to plan the following week.  This might include your food menu for the following week, your work schedule, items to complete on your to- do list.  You should also put down your plan for balancing the needs of others (volunteer times) and your needs (your activity that brings you joy).  If you are still in the mode of changing your exercise, eating and sleeping habits, add that to your weekly plan. Part of being organized is to let wiggle room in your schedule.  Give yourself permission to not have the day completely jammed packed.  You can always fill it up, but it is more difficult to eliminate things that take your time.
  • Keep under notes all things pertinent and important.  There are many different systems out there to help in organization of lists and files- charts, apps, documents, etc.  If you google "organizing important documents" you can find one that fits your needs, personality and budget. Can be as simple as a piece of paper with a list kept in a folder.  The point is to keep in one place the information of important documents: Doctors names and contact information. Prescriptions.  Medical history.  Passwords. Financial information. Tax information. Receipts for major purchases. 

What about you?  Do you feel overwhelmed with your schedule and obligations?  What areas of your life?  What do you need to do to get organized?  What small steps can you take to achieve it?  If you feel pretty organized in your life, what things do you do to stay organized?  

 Simplifying our lives and organizing what we have is another way to bolster our resilience to the onslaught of life.   It is a way that we can bounce back like Bozo. 



"What do you do for fun?"

Recently I was asked that by a new acquaintance.  The question took me by surprise.  For starters, usually I am the one who asks others loads of questions because I am curious and interested in people.  

One time we were staying at a bed and breakfast.  During the complimentary wine and cheese get-together we were mingling with the other guests.  I was asking this one couple different questions based on their previous responses.  Finally the husband turned to me and asked, "What do you do?  Are you a news reporter?"   He wasn't upset but rather was amazed that someone would ask in-depth questions to get to know another without the ulterior motive of "getting a story". 

So, when this new acquaintance asked my about my fun, I first thought, "That's one of my questions for you".  Then I had to really think about it for myself.

What determines fun?  A fun activity for one might not be that much fun for another.  My sister likes skiing.  I do not.  The thought of choosing to be in the cold weather, hurling down a snowy slope with out any brakes or form of control does not excite me.   I know that there is a "just relax and go with it" attitude but that doesn't happen with me. 

Part of what makes something fun for me is an activity that helps me "get in the zone".  An activity in which time doesn't have any part:  I have no recollection if I am spending ten minutes or ten hours doing the activity. 

I also find things fun that enlighten me or provides physical activity (just as long as I don't have to be too cold and give up control- like skiing!).  It is also enjoyable to complete creative projects, like my recent re-painting of the guest room. 

Recently I just heard someone talking about the word, "amuse".  In Latin, "a" means non or not.  For example, amoral- no morals, complete lack of morals.  "Muse" is to think, to ponder.   So "a" + 
"muse" is to not think.  In the strict sense of the word, to be amused is to not think at all.  To turn off the brain.  Which is what we sometimes want to do when we are entertained via movies, books, or videos.  ( I wasn't thinking Latin etymon when I would get annoyed at our boys that, after watching television, they would seem so dulled. "Huh" would be the common refrain to any question asked after the show.) 

So, for me something that which is fun doesn't have to be amusing.  Although at times it can be. 

What we do for fun can mean, "What do we do outside of our work?"  The implication is that our work isn't fun. Generally most people see work and fun as polar opposites.  Certainly that can be true.  Some work isn't fun although there might be aspects that can be fun.  We can be serious about what we do but still have a sense of fun.

I think the word "play" should be asked when thinking about fun.  Children have a wonderful sense of play even if they are doing a task. This past weekend our next door neighbor's five-year-old was helping raking the leaves.  He was having a great time, balancing one leaf on the back of his rake and flipping it over onto the pile.  Of course, not many leaves were raked but he sure had fun. 

What about you?  What do you do for fun?  For amusement?  For work?  Can you bring in a sense of play to your work? 

It reminds me of the Fish! Philosophy.  The employee practices at the Pikes Peak Fish Market. click here to see a video.  When I was working with employers to implement wellness programs, the Fish!Philosophy is a great employee management style for having work/life balance.  It is more than just for employers/employees.  It is a way of viewing life. 

The four foundations of the Fish! Philosophy:

#1-- Be There
 Be there mentally and physically, so you can seize opportunities and maximize your performance.
#2-- Make Their Day
Genuinely connect with customers and colleagues alike. Daily create an engaging work environment or delightful customer experience -- the kind that builds loyalty and repeat business.
#3-- Play
Embrace a playful state of mind that makes you more energetic, enthusiastic and creative. Result: enhanced customer relations and elevated productivity.
#4-- Choose Your Attitude
Cultivate self-sufficiency and control in consistently making smarter business decisions. A mental state optimized to "be there" with an attitude that ignites success.

Take Pleasure in Toil

For those of you who have faithfully subscribed to this blog, you have read of my struggles for work/life balance.  Some of you have related to me your own struggles with this topic. 

As I have been pondering this struggle a Bible verse came to mind,  "I (the writer of Ecclesiastes) perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil- this is God's gift to man." Ecclesiastes 3: 12 & 13.

In my Bible's commentary it notes that this verse suggests that "rather than becoming embittered by what God has not granted human beings (namely, the ability to comprehend all of reality), one should enjoy the gifts that God has given." 

Touché.  I realize that I am becoming embittered with my situation and towards others and myself because I can not comprehend all of my own reality.  For me, comprehension includes control.  If I am honest with myself, I want to be the one in control of my reality which means I need to know all and to be able to control others' decisions regarding my situation. Yet I know that certain things are beyond my control. Not only can I not comprehend all that is around me, I cannot comprehend why I cannot figure things out.   I can strive to be balanced, but I may fail miserably. 

This verse reminds me that I should just focus on the basics- enjoy the things that God has given me, strive to do good deeds and to work at my calling.  For the immediate present, I might not be able to do all that I hoped to do- devote a single mindedness to full-time work- but I can do what I can. 

I am slowly realizing that this smaller "action list" is a gift.  There is no need to make myself anxious or upset with self-loathing over unaccomplished goals.   All I need to be concerned about is being obedient to God's call on my life and enjoying the things that come my way and surround me,  whatever that might look like. 

What about you?  Are you still struggling with balance?  Do have difficulty enjoying the simple things? Why something so basic and seemingly easy is so difficult to do?  Why is contentment so elusive? 

What would it be like if we all asked, what can be done?  Not to get discouraged or to think of the bigger reality, but what small thing can we do that takes pleasure in our toil? 

I would encourage you (as I encourage myself) to enjoy this day and enjoy the toil, whatever comes our way.