Learning from the birds

When you pause for even a few minutes to observe the world around you, all sorts of messages are right there waiting.

Here are a few things I learned from the birds this morning :).

If this video is helpful, you can find more on YouTube by doing a search for my name – Janie Downey. If you think this would be helpful to others, please like, share, and subscribe. Each of those is super helpful for getting out a message of peace, love, and Organized Zen.

When Trevor hit a BIG wall in life, he formed a community to help others

Last week, I posted about the important role building community has in getting to your best work. In this post, I’ll tell you about am amazing community my son-in-law Trevor Maxwell built while fighting Stage 4 Colon cancer.

If you’re looking for inspiration today, please click here!

If you know someone who needs the same inspiration, please share. And while you’re on YouTube, please subscribe to my channel if you haven’t already. Subscribing is a super helpful way to help others find the message.

Thank you!

How does being part of a strong community help you get things done?

When you’re part of a community, you feel safer taking chances in life because you feel supported. And you know that if something doesn’t work out exactly as you intended, someone is going to be there for you – maybe to help you laugh it off. And maybe to help you get on your feet to try again.

In the activity this week, I’ll walk you through ways to build stronger community ties. And ways to form a community if you are feeling the need for a wider web to catch you!

Here are my thoughts

I hope all is well in your world!

When you hit a wall – then what?

Have you had points in your life, at home or at work, where you were chugging along and then some major event, person, idea, or pandemic knocked you onto a new path?

Hitting a wall is not fun. But sometimes the Universe wants us to go in a new direction and that wall you ran into had a purpose. What you do after you hit a wall is often where the fun and magic begin.

Here’s more on this topic!

This was a fun one to record. Please let me know if it’s fun to watch!

Take What You Have and Build Community

“This, too.” ~ Tara Brach

Trevor Maxwell is one of my favorite human beings. He is a kind, connected, enterprising person who holds his family and friends at an extraordinarily high level. When Trevor found out he had stage four colon cancer at age 42, the pain of the illness was nothing to him compared to the pain his diagnosis placed on those he was closest to.

His first reaction when he got the news was to shut down, to remove himself from those he loved most. For a year after his diagnosis, he struggled through multiple surgeries and chemotherapy only to find out that the cancer kept returning. Trevor was in for the fight of his life but he didn’t want to fight. He wanted to crawl into a cave and disappear. Depression, understandably, overwhelmed him. But the bonds he’d formed over the years with family and friends meant that no one was ready for him to disappear. His wife told him simply, “You are still here. And you have to fight.”

Trevor is a professional writer and started writing his story, expressing his fears and his hopes. And he started writing to others on a mix of social media sites. Others found him incredibly helpful as he explained various options for those with similar cancer diagnoses. By reaching out, he gradually became part of a larger cancer community. And he started to connect in person with doctors and others in Colontown, “an online community of over 100 “secret” groups on Facebook for colon cancer patients and survivors.” You can find out more their site at colontown.org

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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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Bats and Palaces

As an organizer, it’s a bit of a mind game to make a plan to get your best work done and still be okay with whatever happens. When the Universe is synchronous around you, it’s a great reminder that all is well, that there’s a pattern in your life, and that things are happening as they’re meant to happen. When you recognize and appreciate synchronicity, it helps you work toward an end without being too attached to the outcome. And breathing into this gives you a wonderful feeling of settled Zen.

I had a synchronous moment last week between a wild animal presentation on bats, and a book I was reading, Palaces of the People, by Eric Klinenberg. Continue reading

Honoring synchronicity

Don’t you love when you ask the Universe a question and you get a clear answer? It doesn’t happen all the time. When it does it reminds you of a few things.

  1. It’s cool when mysterious stuff happens.
  2. We have guides everywhere. Some we know; many we do not.
  3. There is a plan for us even if we have no idea what that plan is.
  4. When cool stuff happens, it’s a reminder to be aware and be grateful.
  5. When you ask for help, help is there.

As you may know, I’m headed off on a big writing trip at the end of February and that decision has stirred up all sorts of other changes. This has made the world feel a bit tilted and chaotic for me. I love the high energy of the decision but it’s honestly been hard keeping the organizational challenges of this from feeling like an impending tidal wave. I have a few questions! Continue reading

Are you a Stranger in the Woods?

I just finished listening to The Stranger in the Woods; the Extraordinary Life of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel. This is a non-fiction account of Christopher Knight. At age 20, Chris ditched his car and walked away from an apartment and a dead-end job, preferring to live by himself in the Maine woods rather than conform to the demands of a society he did not feel part of. When Chris fled to the woods it was out of a desperate need to be alone. To have the quiet to contemplate. To be outside. Twenty-seven years later, he was arrested for burglary and sent to jail.

There is so much interesting thinking here for anyone trying to craft a life that fits with who you are. And the book reminds us that we are all different, that what works for one person does not work for all. This includes a conventional education path, climbing a ladder, to-do lists, and that ever-present push to “succeed.” If that makes you happy, great. But if it doesn’t, what then? Continue reading