Thursday, January 28, 2010

How Not To Hurry

Here is another great blog with some thoughts on how to slow down and enjoy life a bit more.


Posted: 28 Jan 2010      Post written by Leo Babauta

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” ~ Lao Tzu
Consider the above quote from Lao Tzu, (perhaps mythical) father of Taoism: how can it be true?
Is it possible to never hurry, but to get everything done?
It seems contradictory to our modern world, where everything is a rush, where we try to cram as much into every minute of the day as possible, where if we are not busy, we feel unproductive and lazy.
In fact, often we compete by trying to show how busy we are. I have a thousand projects to do! Oh yeah? I have 10,000! The winner is the person who has the most insane schedule, who rushes from one thing to the next with the energy of a hummingbird, because obviously that means he’s the most successful and important.
Maybe not. Maybe we’re playing the wrong game — we’ve been conditioned to believe that busier is better, but actually the speed of doing is not as important as what we focus on doing.
Maybe we’re going at the wrong speed. Maybe if we are constantly rushing, we will miss out on life itself. Let’s let go of the obsession with speed, and instead slow down, stop rushing, and enjoy life.
And still get everything done.
Let’s look at how.
A Change of Mindset
The most important step is a realization that life is better when you move at a slower, more relaxed pace, instead of hurrying and rushing and trying to cram too much into every day. Instead, get the most out of every moment.
Is a book better if you speed read it, or if you take your time and get lost in it?
Is a song better if you skim through it, or if you take the time to really listen?
Is food better if you cram it down your throat, or if you savor every bite and really appreciate the flavor?
Is your work better if you’re trying to do 10 things at once, or if you really pour yourself into one important task?
Is your time spent with a friend or loved one better if you have a rushed meeting interrupted by your emails and text messages, or if you can relax and really focus on the person?
Life as a whole is better if you go slowly, and take the time to savor it, appreciate every moment. That’s the simplest reason to slow down.
And so, you’ll need to change your mindset (if you’ve been stuck in a rushed mindset until now). To do this, make the simple admission that life is better when savored, that work is better with focus. Then make the commitment to give that a try, to take some of the steps below.
But I Can’t Change!
There will be some among you who will admit that it would be nice to slow down, but you just can’t do it … your job won’t allow it, or you’ll lose income if you don’t do as many projects, or living in the city makes it too difficult to go slowly. It’s a nice ideal if you’re living on a tropical island, or out in the country, or if you have a job that allows control of your schedule … but it’s not realistic for your life.
I say boloney.
Take responsibility for your life. If your job forces you to rush, take control of it. Make changes in what you do, in how you work. Work with your boss to make changes if necessary. And if really necessary, you can eventually change jobs. You are responsible for your life.
If you live in a city where everyone rushes, realize that you don’t have to be like everyone else. You can be different. You can walk instead of driving in rush hour traffic. You can have fewer meetings. You can work on fewer but more important things. You can be on your iPhone or Blackberry less, and be disconnected sometimes. Your environment doesn’t control your life — you do.
I’m not going to tell you how to take responsibility for your life, but once you make the decision, the how will become apparent over time.
Tips for a Slower-Paced Life
I can’t give you a step-by-step guide to moving slower, but here are some things to consider and perhaps adopt, if they work for your life. Some things might require you to change some major things, but they can be done over time.
  1. Do less. Cut back on your projects, on your task list, on how much you try to do each day. Focus not on quantity but quality. Pick 2-3 important things — or even just one important thing — and work on those first. Save smaller, routine tasks for later in the day, but give yourself time to focus. Read more.
  2. Have fewer meetings. Meetings are usually a big waste of time. And they eat into your day, forcing you to squeeze the things you really need to do into small windows, and making you rush. Try to have blocks of time with no interruptions, so you don’t have to rush from one meeting to another.
  3. Practice disconnecting. Have times when you turn off your devices and your email notifications and whatnot. Time with no phone calls, when you’re just creating, or when you’re just spending time with someone, or just reading a book, or just taking a walk, or just eating mindfully. You can even disconnect for (gasp!) an entire day, and you won’t be hurt. I promise.
  4. Give yourself time to get ready and get there. If you’re constantly rushing to appointments or other places you have to be, it’s because you don’t allot enough time in your schedule for preparing and for traveling. Pad your schedule to allow time for this stuff. If you think it only takes you 10 minutes to get ready for work or a date, perhaps give yourself 30-45 minutes so you don’t have to shave in a rush or put on makeup in the car. If you think you can get there in 10 minutes, perhaps give yourself 2-3 times that amount so you can go at a leisurely pace and maybe even get there early.
  5. Practice being comfortable with sitting, doing nothing. One thing I’ve noticed is that when people have to wait, they become impatient or uncomfortable. They want their mobile device or at least a magazine, because standing and waiting is either a waste of time or something they’re not used to doing without feeling self-conscious. Instead, try just sitting there, looking around, soaking in your surroundings. Try standing in line and just watching and listening to people around you. It takes practice, but after awhile, you’ll do it with a smile.
  6. Realize that if it doesn’t get done, that’s OK. There’s always tomorrow. And yes, I know that’s a frustrating attitude for some of you who don’t like laziness or procrastination or living without firm deadlines, but it’s also reality. The world likely won’t end if you don’t get that task done today. Your boss might get mad, but the company won’t collapse and the life will inevitably go on. And the things that need to get done will.
  7. Start to eliminate the unnecessary. When you do the important things with focus, without rush, there will be things that get pushed back, that don’t get done. And you need to ask yourself: how necessary are these things? What would happen if I stopped doing them? How can I eliminate them, delegate them, automate them?
  8. Practice mindfulness. Simply learn to live in the present, rather than thinking so much about the future or the past. When you eat, fully appreciate your food. When you’re with someone, be with them fully. When you’re walking, appreciate your surroundings, no matter where you are. Read this for more, and also try The Mindfulist.
  9. Slowly eliminate commitments. We’re overcommitted, which is why we’re rushing around so much. I don’t just mean with work — projects and meetings and the like. Parents have tons of things to do with and for their kids, and we overcommit our kids as well. Many of us have busy social lives, or civic commitments, or are coaching or playing on sports teams. We have classes and groups and hobbies. But in trying to cram so much into our lives, we’re actually deteriorating the quality of those lives. Slowly eliminate commitments — pick 4-5 essential ones, and realize that the rest, while nice or important, just don’t fit right now. Politely inform people, over time, that you don’t have time to stick to those commitments.
Try these things out. Life is better when unrushed. And given the fleeting nature of this life, why waste even a moment by rushing through it?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

What was my "natural" hair color?

For the last few years, I have been getting my hair colored.  Those little gray roots would start to get to me and I wanted to get rid of them.  At first, I loved banishing the gray.  But, as time went on, I didn't like the color of my hair.  It just seemed way too dark.

So, I said to my colorist, this color is too dark and he said that I had asked him to match my natural hair color and he had.

What I realized is that I had completely forgotten what my natural hair color was.  I had always loved my natural color, why didn't I love this color?  It made me think that no matter how hard I tried I couldn't remember who I was.  I had sort of lost my identity.  Yes, I know it was just hair color, but it made me think of my inner self and how I really couldn't remember who I was anymore.

After years of being a mom and being a wife and whatever else I was, I wasn't sure anymore what I liked or who I really was as a person.  Decades ago, my mom said, "be careful not to lose your own identity".  I took care of that, I became a lawyer.  With a law degree, I would never lose my identity.  I was "somebody".  The problem was I didn't like being a lawyer. 

I have loved bringing up my children and working in the schools and being the "manager" of the family.  I don't regret a minute of it, but as my youngest gets closer to going off to college, I am realizing that I really don't remember my natural hair color, that is, who the heck I am.

When I mentioned this to a friend, she said, "maybe you don't want to be exactly the person you were".  I thought about that.  Maybe it's not so much about going back to your original natural hair color, but realizing you now have the chance to have any color you choose.  Maybe I have been spending too much time trying to remember who I was and thinking I could go back. Suzanne Braun Levine says in her book, "Inventing The Rest of Our Lives: Women in Second Adulthood" (which I highly recommend), "You are not who you were, only older."

I think she is right.  I have changed a lot over the last 20 years and even if I could remember my "natural hair color", it isn't necessarily what I need or want right now.  It is time to explore and get excited by the fact that I can choose any damn color I want.  

I doubt I will ever be a blond, but it's nice to know that life ahead has many more possibilities than what I had been thinking.  My natural color is just one option, actually my options now are limitless.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Great Site for Outdoor Activities in California

Since I have forgotten what the sun looks like, I found a site to 
remind me.

Here is a great site to look at for outdoor activities in California.

Check out this week's sherpa for a sample and look through the 
archives for hiking, biking, water, relaxing, etc.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

How to Suck at Anything

I really enjoy reading the Illuminated Mind blog.  Here is a fun piece on's tongue in cheek, but I love it.

Denise          January 12, 2010

I used to spend a lot of time worrying about being terrible at things. I thought I would make a fool of myself. I thought I would be embarrassed. More than anything, I thought I would fail.
The truth is all of those things usually happened when I tried to do anything that I wanted to do.
I looked pretty ridiculous, I was embarrassed, and I failed. A lot.
When I first started this blog some of my writing was pretty scary. But that’s what happens when you start anything.
You suck.
And that’s great. Sucking is absolutely necessary. There’s no way around it. In order to get better at anything, at some point or another you’re going to have to suck. That’s just the way it is.
So, here’s the secret to sucking at anything.
There’s also a secret to never failing and never being criticized.
Don’t do anything. Ever.
The only way to avoid criticism, avoid looking like a fool and failing is to not do anything at all. And if that’s okay with you, fine. But I don’t see any point in living if that’s the case.
When it comes down to it, if you ever want to get good at anything, at some point you’re going to have to suck.
I’d rather be terribly horrible at everything that I do, than do nothing at all. At least that way I know that I tried. I’ll know that I lived and I didn’t just exist.
There’s a secret I’ve learned, though. If you embrace that you suck, it loses its power over you.
So, stop wasting time reading this. Go find something to suck at.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

What We Can Learn From the Wizard of Oz

I have just finished a book called “The Way of Transition” by William Bridges.  There is a part of the book where the author refers to the story of the Wizard of Oz and how Dorothy’s journey is a symbol of how we all go through transitions.

I wanted to summarize it for you because it is such an interesting way of looking at the story.


“The trip becomes “a journey” after you have lost your luggage.”


In the Wizard of Oz, we find Dorothy in a flat, dry land where the earth is dying.  The dusty land represents something in your life that has come to an end.  Whether you are ready or not, it is time to let go.  

One day, Dorothy is playing and she sees a tornado coming.  She knows she must run and hide in the cellar if she is to be safe.  The tornado symbolizes an event which shakes you out of where you have been and forces you to find yourself in a new place, one that feels strange and as William Bridges puts it, “adds a whole new dimension to the experience”.

Dorothy only cares about one thing:  fix things, get them back to the way they were, get back to Kansas.  Dorothy begins her quest to return to Kansas by finding the expert who can quickly solve her problems and send her back home, the Wizard of Oz.  Dorothy goes through various disasters in her journey, but when she finally makes it to the Wizard, she finds out he is a fake and that he doesn’t have the answers.  The answers are actually within Dorothy.  Bridges alludes to the concept that we always feel that “only if” some particular thing would happen, all our problems would be solved.  As we all know, that is not true and the issue is figuring things out in our own hearts and minds.  No one thing or one person can make us happy.  We have to do that for ourselves.

For Dorothy, the ruby slippers are the answer and they have been on her feet the whole time (of course, they represent the notion that the answer is always within us).  But, the question is if the slippers were the answer, why couldn’t she just have clicked her heels at the beginning?  Why did she need to go through the whole journey?

Bridges says that journey is critical.  It is the “transitional experience”.  Without it, Dorothy would have returned back home and things would have been as dry and dead as when she had left.  But because of the experience of the journey, Dorothy returns to Kansas and the rain has fallen and the land has been renewed.  Dorothy is not the same person when she returns and neither are you once you have been through a transitional experience.   Dorothy discovered what she needed to know to take the next step in her development.

Though we always hope for the easy way out, like the Wizard giving us the easy solution, we need to go through the difficult journey to learn more about ourselves and how we want to live the rest of our life.  In order to start the new beginning, we need to end the old stage.    Though, as Bridges says, “the wisdom of the everyday world always calls on the traveler to keep to the straight path and persevere toward the intended destination, the Way of Transition heads off in another direction”.

Although I have never been a fan of the Wizard of Oz, reading this interpretation was helpful to me because it helped me understand better the way many, if not most, transitions flow.

Dorothy would never have chosen to be whisked off to the Land of Oz, but when she returned, she had new life and energy and she had begun a “new chapter of existence”.

According to Bridges, “It isn’t the events that make a period of your life transitional.  It is the deeper shifts that take place, the inner turnings that you may not even recognize until you can look back.”

Sunday, January 03, 2010

The First Step

This quote is deceptively simple, but very true.  No matter what your New Year's Resolution or your goal, this will always be the first step.  Thanks to a friend who shared this newsletter with me.


"The first step towards getting somewhere is to DECIDE that you are not going to stay where you are."
(Anny Jacoby)

The first step towards any kind of internal shift where something else might be a possibility is beginning with knowing you are not going to stay where you are.

The external reasons of ‘why’ you are still there are just that…external. The paradigm shift starts with the internal, the decision you make that you are not going to stay where you are: emotionally, physically, financially, spiritually, or sexually. What happens outside of us in recovery first starts with the shift internally before it is ever manifested in our lives. We won’t follow a path that isn’t developed internally first. We’ll end up only seeing the road blocks of the external which doesn’t help us.

Friday, January 01, 2010

10 Questions to Ask Yourself

I am not letting you all off the hook so easily without a bit of thought work going into 2010.  Check out the questions below and try and answer them for yourself.  Whether you are making New Year's resolutions or not, your answers to these questions will give you ideas of what you want for yourself this year!
By the way, for the moment, I have created a blog where I will post all my emails to you.  You can find it at:
I love the phrase "Entre Nous".  It means between us in French.

Here are 10 questions to ask yourself that will radically change your view of 2009:

1) Whom did I meet this year who is now in my life?
2) What emotion really caused me to grow? Courage? Faith?
3) What emotion was I unafraid to feel? Fear? Sadness?
4) What am I most proud of?
5) In what area of my life did I really make some progress?
6) What did I do that completely surprised me and was unexpected to me?
7) Whom did I really help?
8) What is the biggest lesson I really faced?
9) What am I most grateful for?
10) What were the most fun times I had?

Be gentle on yourself and light on life.