The importance of gathering

“Some trees spread root systems underground that interconnect individual trunks and weave individual trees into a more stable whole that can’t so easily be blown down in the wind. Stories and conversations are like those roots.”

~ Rebecca Solnit, from The Mother of All Questions

So here’s the thing. If you’re facing a fear or a dilemma, and you think your options are “fight or flight,” consider a third option: “Gather.” Gather for solidarity. Gather for advice. Gather for support. Continue reading

Five tips to get something GREAT done

The start of a new year is a great time to think about stuff you’d like to get done. If there’s something you’ve been putting off or something you’ve started by can’t seem to finish, why not make 2018 your year to say, “You’ll never believe what I did this year!”?

Doing interesting work that lifts your energy is a guaranteed happy-maker. And you’ll have a good story to tell this time next year!

Here are five tips to get something GREAT done in 2018.

Know why this is on your list
I’m a big believer in following an energy path and if you’ve been stalling on something for a long time, maybe you don’t really want to do it. Is this something you think you ought to do? Or something someone else wants you to do? Why is getting this done important to you? Continue reading

The peace of the pause

I wrapped up a big theater project last weekend and Monday morning felt like I’d hit a wall – face first! Every step, every thought took effort. What was going on? I was exhausted after 3 months of intense work, 6-7 days a week. And I was sad. Ending a show feels like the end of summer camp. You’ve had a great time with a new group of friends you know you’ll never be with again in that same setting. And while everyone is still around, you grieve the moment that’s lost.

AND to make you crazy, the songs from a musical run in a continuous loop in your mind for another week or so! Torture.

So this week I’ve spent time meditating on the challenges we met, the fun we had, and the show we produced. I’ve sent out thank you notes to add closure. And I’ve tried my best to be quiet to give myself time to pause for a couple of days between projects. Continue reading

How to improve your concentration

Being focused on what you’re doing helps you do good work. And it’s fun to sink deep into a project.

If you’re feeling a little scattered, here are 5 Buddhist tips for meditation that also help with concentration.

Pay attention to where you’re working
If you’re trying to do serious work in a noisy, active place – good luck! When you need to focus, give yourself the best shot possible by finding or creating a calm, quiet place with few distractions. You may think you can concentrate amidst chaos, but give quiet a chance and see how much it improves both the amount and quality of your output. Continue reading

Write it down

What do you do when you have a great idea – but it’s the middle of the night. Or you’re in the shower. Or you’re driving your car. And you try to remember that idea by reminding yourself. And reminding yourself. But before you can take action, the idea fades away.

If you want to capture more ideas and get them closer to action, write your ideas down whenever and wherever they come to you. Put a pad of paper, a pen, and a flashlight next to the bed. Keep a pad of paper in the bathroom so as soon as you exit the shower you have a place to record your thoughts. If you’re driving, pull over. It’s better to do that and get the thought out of your head than it is to drive distracted. Continue reading

Get some sleep!

Our society seems to value getting by on very little sleep. How many times have you heard someone say, “Yep, I get by on five hours a night,” and you think, “I should be able to do that.”

But the thing is your body needs deep, uninterrupted sleep every night. Sleep is when your brain reorganizes and recharges. When you cut that short, you wake up groggy. You can’t answer a question until you’ve had at least two cups of coffee. You fantasize about taking a nap as you head into a late afternoon meeting. You have a heck of a time staying focused.  And good luck getting to the things you want to get done.

You may feel like you’re getting by just fine, but new medical studies show that a lack of regular sleep can have significant health implications – with brain diseases like Alzheimer’s, and on your over-all good health.

I loved a recent write-up in the Smithsonian about how even jellyfish have to sleep. This means that this sea creature becomes completely vulnerable for certain periods of the day or night – and yet has survived for millennia. Continue reading

The importance of asking for help

A participant in a talk I gave last week shared a great story. She’s a single mom who worked full-time while raising her daughter. For them, there was no question that household chores had to be divided or they wouldn’t get done. To survive, they made a list of weekly chores and put them into a hat. Each week they would draw to see who did what. And here’s the fun part. If you got something you really hated, you could attempt a trade. FYI: She said cleaning the cat box was always worth at least two chores in a trade. 🙂

Most of us who raised kids tried a mix of ways to get them to help out around the house – from charts and graphs to outright bribes! The “hat” method adds suspense each week. And I picture cheering as you draw certain chores or avoid drawing others.

This conversation got me thinking about how much most of us hate asking for help. We feel like we should be able to do whatever we’ve taken on and don’t want to appear weak or needy. At the same time, most of us love offering a helping hand. Think back on a time when someone really needed help and you came to their aid. Can you feel your energy rise remembering that? Continue reading