Belongings v. Belonging

Owning a lot of stuff can give you a temporary feeling of being happy. But when you start to collect a lot of belongings, the burden can feel overwhelming, says a person who moved three times during the Pandemic :). And, the more we own, the more we demand of the earth to support us.

In Braiding Sweetgrass, author Robin Wall Kimmerer muses on ways in which our relationship with the earth is reflected in our relationships with others. Being caring and conscientious with our natural environment gives us a feeling of belonging to the earth. She gives beautiful examples of how we have co-evolved with the earth – where we need the earth and the earth needs us.

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Is it time to take a baby step?

When making a change feels overwhelming, trust that if you take one baby step in a new direction, other steps will follow. This is true when you’re considering a new habit. Decluttering your house. Changing jobs. Or moving across the country!

One step… you make a decision.

One step… you’re facing in a new direction.

One step… you’re a tiny bit closer to a goal.

What’s vital is that you choose each step with intent. What do you want to get done in the long run? And what’s one small step you can take today to get going?

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I’m back!

It’s been almost a year since Covid bounced me off my writing path and I ended up back in Portland, Maine. It’s been an insightful year despite the restrictions of a pandemic. Before I left to travel and write, I got divorced, sold my house, and quit my job. So when I came back to Maine, I had no responsibilities and no agenda. What’s an organizer to do with no agenda?

I wrote – not the book I intended to write based on history and travel – but a book called Organizational Zen (which has the fun nickname of OZ!). OZ captures the essence of what I write about in this blog. How do you get to your best work? How do you stay calm amidst chaos? How do you remain joyful in the face of life’s many challenges and uncertainties?

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Same dream; new plan

I’m a planner, as you may know. I like to keep things organized and to get a lot done each day. This year, I decided to put aside a busy life and have just one thing on my list: write a sequel to my Gunny Malone novel. In order to clear my list, my plan was to travel and write-in-place. To be inspired by the places I was writing about including rounding Cape Horn on a ship. To write as I followed the trail west from Virginia to San Francisco. To write as I spent time in Alexandria, Virginia, Washington, DC, and Charleston, South Carolina. And to write while living for a month on the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland.

I had worked on my plans for about a year. I had an over-sized map on my wall with places I wanted to go, things I wanted to see, and people I was going to stay with. I got camping equipment and a new car for the journey, one I could sleep in if necessary. I quit my job. I sold my house. And I hit the road on February 26th. Continue reading

Why don’t I?

I love when you find and make time for high energy projects whether it’s work you’re paid for or work you choose to do on your own. And I deeply believe that when you get organized you do your best work because you’re choosing how to spend your brief time here on Earth.

Luggage for today

The rubber is literally hitting the road for me as I write those words and begin a seven month journey to get the rough draft written for the sequel to Gunny Malone. This is high-energy, driven work that may make no sense to anyone but me. But I heard the call to head off on a Quest, so off I go. Today is Day #1 of the journey as I fly off to Chile, our base to head out on a Viking cruise around Cape Horn. When I get back, I’ll start a US cross-country trip from New York to Virginia, then west along the old Oregon trail ending up in San Francisco. Then I’ll spend time back on the east coast working on parts of the story in Charleston and Maine and  wrap up with a month writing on the west coast of Ireland. These are all places where the sequel happens, but it starts in 1861. So I’ll also be time traveling! What does one efficiently pack for time travel? 🙂 Continue reading

Bird by bird

I have a lot going on that’s pushing me to the limits of my organizational skills. I got divorced in December, we’re selling the house this month, and I moved my stuff out last weekend to store it at my daughter’s house while I travel through next October. Oh, and I quit my job. Things that have been in place for a long time are very much out of place and I feel chaos looming around every corner.

Then, at a Songwriting Workshop last week, our leader Jud Caswell, talked about taking small steps to get started on something new, and mentioned Anne Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird. The title comes from a time when Anne’s brother was procrastinating writing a big report on birds. The dad’s advice was to go bird by bird. And finally the report was done. Continue reading

Can you become a Morning Person?

Here’s something I would not think possible: That you can turn an evening person into a morning person. In the research I’ve done and through personal observations I’ve made over several decades, I deeply believe that each of us has a sweet spot of time in the day where we’re productive. We have other times when we’re creative . And we all have base times where we need to chill and get some sleep.

To meet work demands, many try to make a change, but it doesn’t seem to be all that successful without a lot of caffeine!

But last week I read an article in the New York Times by Harry Guinness, a writer who swears he made the switch from Night Owl to Morning Dove. I’d love a follow-up from him at some point to see how this is going, but here are his tips for how he made the switch in case you’re interested. Continue reading

Connect

I’ve been part of a number of in-depth conversations over the last couple of weeks about how important community is, and how it can be so hard to grasp these days. The topic came up at work, in a book group, in an Eldering discussion group, at the Democracy Cafe, and among a circle of friends. Have you ever noticed when an idea bubbles up in your life that you hear it over and over?

Here’s the core of the thinking. Humans are tribal. We evolved to live and work in tight communities with shared experiences and shared work. But we live in crazy times where few of us live near family or old friends. Many of us live in houses or apartments that are tucked away from everyone. We drive in cars by ourselves. And many of us put on a face when we’re at work or school. Do people even know us? Continue reading

Make Time

I’m always on the lookout for new ways to get and stay organized. My latest inspiration is Make Time by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky. These two Silicon Valley fellows found themselves swamped with work and while they had interesting careers, were unhappy with the amount of time they had left in the day to do work they loved. Part of the work they loved, of course, was writing a book about doing the work they loved… :).

Here are their four big take-aways: Continue reading