Rest #Tinyhearts

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The Underappreciation of Rest in Our Society by Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist:

Rest has become confused with laziness. We live in a society that praises those who work 60hrs/week and makes faulty assumptions about those who work 40. We have confused rest with laziness. And while too much rest may indeed be an indicator of sloth, the regular practice of finding rest is not.

Read the whole article here. Lots of great stuff!

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When Breath Meets Busy by Courtney Carver of Be More with Less:

The more I worked, the more work I had. For awhile, I thrived on busyness. Then I resented it…Eventually my busyness became unproductive in every possible way.

Read the whole article here. It includes a five-minute antidode to busyness.

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Busy Be Gone by me. 🙂 A two-minute video about being a recovering busy-aholic.

Read about the beginning of this series here.

Life in a Box

Photo by robhowells87 via flickr cc

No, I’m not a homeless person, but I have lived much of my life in a box. Not a cardboard box, but an imaginary box surrounding my body and restricting my every move.

I spent nearly 20 years in school, sitting at a desk.

I wrote a Master’s thesis, a disseration, and four books, typing and sitting at a desk.

I spent another 20 years counseling others, while sitting.

Now I work as a medical consultant, reviewing medical records, typing, all the while sitting at a desk.

My favorite hobby has been scrapbooking, mostly done at a table or a desk.

When I stop and think about it, it’s no surprise that I have pain from my shoulders, down through my arms, and all the way to my fingertips.

But there’s more. And this part is harder to share. Not only have my physical movements been restricted, but my emotional repertoire has been limited as well. I’ve lived most of my life as a people-pleasing good girl. In other words, I don’t do anger well. I don’t want to make others mad, and I definitely don’t want others mad at me. (At least 20 minutes have gone by with me staring blankly at the screen.) I’m drawing a blank at knowing what else to write; that’s how out of touch I am with anger. If you asked me, “What makes me angry?” I would be hard-pressed to come up with an answer. I’m not sure I even know what it feels like. I recently read that anxiety is a reaction to repressed anger. It’s a bit too Freudian-sounding to me, but what if there’s even a grain of truth to it? I may not do anger, but I certainly excel in anxiety.

I’m not sure where this all is going, and it’s disconcerting.

My challenge is not the typical “think outside the box.” No, I have to figure out a way to live outside the box. Even if that means getting off my butt and kicking some ass. (Oh my, that last sentence is so not me.)

Long Days, Short Summer

Gretchen Rubin said, “The days are long but the years are short.” That’s how I feel about this summer. Some of the days dragged for me, especially dealing with more pain than usual (see my post Tiny Dreams). But now I don’t know where the time went. Everyone is back in school and fall is near.

Despite the pain, there are definitely fun times I will remember about this summer. I feel a little silly sharing them–they’re not exciting things like going on vacation or anything like that. But they mean something to me.

* Watching the HBO series, Flight of the Concords, as a family for the third time. It’s hard to describe the show’s appeal; you’d probably either love it or hate it. The series revolves around a pair of folk singers from New Zealand as they try to achieve success as a band in New York City. It’s off-beat and quirky. I love it that we all three laugh out loud through every episode. (Well, I’ll be honest. Greg did fall asleep once.)

* Turning a large walk-in closet in the basement into a makeshift recording studio for our son. We pinned old comforters all over the walls and had blankets lining the ceiling. A folding chair and old table for his laptop, plus his guitars, mandolin, banjo, harmonica, ukulele and some other new instruments ordered off the Internet (a melodica?) made for a cozy space. It was pretty insulated, but occasionally I’d hear some random clapping wafting through the vents. I’m so happy our home could be a place where he could create his own wonderful (also off-beat, quirky, and make-you-smile) kind of music.

*Spending lots of time sitting on the covered patio just watching the birds and hearing the neighborhood kids playing. I really embraced just being, and didn’t worry that I didn’t “accomplish” much of anything this summer (see my post Busy Be Gone).

I’d be tickled pink if you’d like my self-compassion Facebook page–you can click here. You can also follow me on Twitter by clicking here. I’m turning into a social media junkie 🙂

Here is Gretchen Rubin’s heart-warming one-minute video, The Years are Short.

Busy Be Gone

Brene´ Brown recently posted this on her Facebook page: “It’s so easy to buy into the idea that if we stay busy enough the truth of our lives won’t catch up with us. When they start having 12-step meetings for busy-aholics, they’ll need to rent out football stadiums.” This clearly resonated with people.  1,183 people liked it and 80 people commented. I replied, “Great idea, but I might be too busy to go.”

I love her writing, but sometimes Brene´ uses such big concepts, I’m not 100% sure what she means. I definitely relate to the part about busyness, but I’m not positive what it means about the truth of our lives catching up with us. Maybe I’ll figure it out as I’m writing. Maybe it will be a separate piece.

In my post, The Grass Always Grows Where You Water It, I wrote: “It’s May 1st, and I usually would have already had my monthly goals mapped out in my mind (and on paper). But not this month. I’ve been busy living, so that’s a good thing!” I also added that I wasn’t even worried about not having any formal goals. Well, I lied. I’ve been scared out of my mind. I’ve been doing a lot of not being busy, and I wonder if I’ll turn into some sort of sluggish sloth!  What if I never set another goal again?

Busy has always been a good thing in my family. It means you’re being productive. My family is of German descent, and I think it’s a cultural thing. During weekly Sunday phone calls, my mother cheerily told me to “Have a productive day.” In talking with another woman of German heritage, she said her mother said exactly the same thing! She also told me about a German word,  sitzfleish. It literally means the virtual flesh that exists between one’s behind and the chair. Figuratively, it refers to the ability to persist in one’s work, the patience that can endure anything, and the idea that work is more important than play.

I’ve certainly had a lot of sitzfleish in my life. I’ve prided myself on being able to plow through work and sit there until the job is done. And I’m not knocking the value of being able to keep your butt on the chair. It’s a skill that has served me well over the years, especially spending oodles of study time earning a doctorate and pounding out four books.

For me, busy has been fun. It has often meant being fully focused and engaged, in a state of creative flow.

My problem is that I take it too far. I don’t know when to stop, take a break, get up from the computer, walk around, stretch, move, breathe. Can you have too much creative flow? Sometimes I think so. I can get so immersed in what I’m doing that I forget to eat—and that’s saying something! (Maybe there’s a book in there…Write Yourself Thin.)

Ethan Nichtern, a popular Buddhist teacher, talks about the Tibetan concept of coemergence. He defines it as  “the ability of any particular phenomenon or experience to manifest as either wisdom or confusion, helpful or harmful, a weapon or a prison. So busy is not good or bad, it’s what we do with it.

I’ve never been good at finding balance in my life. I’m an all-or-nothing kind of girl. Greg teases me about it all the time. For example, when I want to change the thermostat in the house (and being a middle-aged woman that is about every five minutes), I ask him, “Are you hot or are you freezing?”

If there’s one good thing that has come from my chronic pain, it’s that it’s making me more mindful of my work habits. I simply can’t work for as long as I used to. But I’m still fighting that fact. I usually don’t notice I’ve worked too long until my body screams at me.

Hmmm, I’m sensing a new goal…start listening for the tiny whispers.

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We have a great covered patio, and I think I’ve sat outside more this month than in all the months we’ve lived here combined (about 5 years). I’ve been watching birds build nests, listening to them sing, and feeling the breezes blow. I’ve enjoyed sharing this time with Greg, my college-age son who has been home more, and of course, Lily and Larry. As I’m sitting here finishing this, I see 7  Goldfinches, an Indigo Bunting, two Cardinals, a Red-bellied Woodpecker, and two Wrens who live in the birdhouse you’ll see pictured below. I’ve named them Henry and Harriet. They seem like a great couple! I wonder if they’ve done much decorating in their house…

There’s no place like home.

Windy day!

Trying to get Lily and Larry to pose.

We’ve had enough of this!