Monthly Archives: March 2011

Using Boredom

I’ve been reading blogs for the last two hours. I opened my google reader for the first time in at least four days and had a lot to catch up on; I also (probably) oversubscribe. When I found myself not retaining any information and not reading anything new I finally closed myself out of it, even if my google reader isn’t back down to zero. Similar to what I’ve mentioned before, what’s the point of taking in all this information if its not doing you any good?

Sometimes I get in these funks, usually when I’m bored. I’m not sure if they are entirely my doing, but I do accept some of the fault for allowing them to last entire afternoons.  I have been wrestling with myself back and forth over the bored v. overly busy line for months now and I’m still trying to find some balance. I believe I’m on the road towards it, but then there are days like these. Days when I’m at work and I’ve completed all the tasks for the day and while I know I have other things I could do, I also realize I have four more days this week, so I need to spread it out. So then I’m chained to a desk four more hours than I need to be.

Before I continue–I’m not one of those break-out-of-the-cubicle people, at least not at this point in my life. I enjoy my job for the most part, there are good and bad days, but I am still learning a lot from my current position and the things that I get to do interest me.

Sometimes, I just get bored. So I catch up on all work e-mail possible, I read all the news articles and silly things that get sent around, I offer to proofread things that are not even in my department, but mostly I just read blogs on-line and hope for the day to end faster. Well today, I’m at my limit.

What worries me about this pattern, especially at work, is that I’m not challenging myself to create something new. I’m not using whatever free time I have at work to further my career.  Why stop at the minimum? If I don’t like to accept it in my personal life, then why here? So I need to check off my to do list over time to avoid a day of boredom? That’s fine, why don’t I create some new work for myself? I write speeches and draft op-eds for my boss and our organization has a new blog, why don’t I write for it?

This question has been in the back of my mind since it was launched in…oh…January. I’ve been meaning to write something (they only ask for 300 words!); I’ve been wanting to. Why haven’t I?

The same reason why it has taken me over a year to commit to a blog and why it is still like pulling teeth to make sure I post something interesting and thought-out at least once a week:  I’m scared.

I’m scared to fall flat on my ass. Even though I am employed as a writer (of sorts), I struggle to write publicly. I struggle to find unique ideas that I “approve” of.  There is this hollow shell of me that drains my spirit and blurts out any negative response just to prove my fears right or cement my feet in place so there’s no going forward.

I’ve managed to work on defeating that black marauder (just watched the movie Sylvia, mixed reaction, but that’s another story) within my personal life by starting this blog and taking a ballet class (first one tonight!).  Now I need to apply this to my work life as well.

Laziness and fear are no longer allowed to be excuses in my personal OR work life. Now,  I’m not about to set out to erase these feelings from my body, just to follow through on my interests and not use them as an excuse to give up or not try.

I’m off to look for a work blog topic—How do you keep your sanity and further your career in those stretches of nothingness that occur from time-to-time at work?

Advertisements

I float. I float about the world with eyes closed and heart open. I drift through time and space like a leaf in the breeze. The natural forces do not constrain me, I know no bounds. It is within this miraculous sphere that I am free. I am dispersed.

Challenge 2: Ballet

Last week I talked about the need to just listen to myself and have the courage to do what I need or desire and do it completely for myself. Well, ask and you shall receive.

Taking my own advice and staying in line with the courage I cultivated to create this blog (Challenge 1), I signed up for Ballet lessons this past weekend.  Ballet was one of those things that I’ve admired my entire life, as a child I mimicked the dance moves, but never actually tried to take them up seriously. Now that pattern half-hearted mimicry is over thanks to a tree I saw on my walk to work last week.

I took this picture of the tree as it caught my eye on my way to work last week.  It’s anyone’s guess how I passed by it at least 100 times in the last few months without seeing it, but the important thing is that I saw it when I needed to.  I immediately thought it looked like the tree was dancing with branches stretched out like the arms of a ballerina.  After that I decided I would try to draw or paint a series of pictures of trees and ballerinas. Since then I’ve done a lot of research pulling pictures of ballerinas off the internet and sketching the tree and dancers in the same position. I’m no artist, but its a nice (and fun!) challenge.  In all this ballet research I found some beginner ballet tutorials on youtube–my old love for ballet reignited and I decided to do something about it.

So now I am taking ballet once a week after work.  Its going to take courage, perseverance, and positivity on many levels–getting there at 7 pm after a long day at work, driving there (living in DC makes me a bit lazy with the car), of course dancing in a way that is completely new and inherently challenging, and being social with a new group of peers.

By listening to myself more, I am opening up a whole new series of opportunities for myself….and of course, many of them will be challenging. It’s easy to see that this ballet class is both opportunity and challenge. I am both ecstatic and completely terrified that I am actually going through with this. It is going to take all of my energy to hold back any “blurts.” Julia Cameron talks a lot about transforming the dialogue that you have with yourself; the statements that you say to yourself without even knowing, especially the negative (which I call “blurts”). I have so many blurts going through my head right now:

  • You’re too old to learn ballet.
  • Starting mid-semester, you will never catch up.
  • You’re too clumsy, too inflexible.
  • You’re not graceful enough.
  • It’s a waste of money, you’ll just fall off the wagon.
  • It’s a waste of time, there’s no point.

I’m listening to them all so I can acknowledge that it’s happening and then smiling and telling each blurt “No.” I can learn ballet no matter what semester, age and skill level.  Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way is an interesting look at how to inspire more creativity within us. If you’re looking to expand creativity in your life (in any way–writing, crafting, painting, dancing), I’d recommend looking into her book or at the very least–acknowledging, confronting, and then transforming any little (but powerful) “blurts” that are standing in your way. I hope this may help  you deal with the negativity that can come with trying new things. What have you done in the past year that has challenged you? Are you starting a new challenge now?

Morning Pages

An update on where my head is: I am (slowly) working my way through the Artist’s Way, which entails a lot of things (I’m participating in an interview about Artist’s Way over on this blog), but one main activity is that every day I write my Morning Pages.  That means that every morning, during breakfast but before I shower, I write 750 words.  750 words is about three pages, at least according to 750words.com (would recommend this site to those of you that want to try out such a project).

Sometimes these pages are diary-like rants or to do lists, but sometimes they are silly poems (that I post here) or other prose full of seeds for future writing projects. I’m so excited to be able to see what little germs of opportunities can just flow out of me while I’m writing without trying to write in the morning.  This weekend I’m going to take an “inventory” of everything in order to pick out what ideas I should move forward with.  I hope that I can start a short story or two from the ideas in my Morning Pages. Keep you posted!

Listening

I have sat, paralyzed with fear, for weeks, probably months. I have been afraid to act. Afraid to actually come into my own, to be who I want to be. It sounds crazy right? I’m not exactly sure where it began–losing close relatives, college pressure, childhood, new/old romantic relationships–but I became completely in denial of myself. How is that even possible?

I have stopped listening and thinking.  I’ve forgotten what its like to be me. It’s amazing that you can continue your life, accomplish things, and even be relatively happy despite forgetting yourself.

I just stopped listening. That’s not to say I haven’t been listening to a lot of other people. I’ve read countless blog posts of probably over 50 “lifestyle” bloggers and 22 books in the last 6 months. I have talked to friends (a little) and, like everyone, I can’t shut off the media or society. So it’s not that I forgot how to listen–just that I forgot that I was the most important person to listen to. That I had a self.

Over the last few months–I’ve been exploring what’s worked for others; trying a few things out and realizing what works for me (I’m still realizing this). I can’t strictly follow one plan for an authentic, flourishing, illuminated, zen, minimalist, extraordinary, nonconformist life over another. I need to take what works for me and leave it at that. Then continue to challenge myself with others’ ideas, but truly act on my own.

I think that’s something any of those bloggers would agree with. I’m grateful for the advice, example, and inspiration that they have been able to give me. That brings me to this moment–where I’m lying in bed writing in a tiny Moleskine day planner from last month. I’m still not exactly sure what I should am going to be doing.  Am I a writer? An artist? A blogger? About what?

I’m still not sure. All I know is that I lost myself and still haven’t regained it (despite a few e-courses/e-books–it’s not that simple). So now I’m here, listening. I’m still pretty confused on what comes next, but I am working to regain faith in myself which is the first step along the way.

11 Things

To shed some light on my last post, I decided to share my list of things I do and do not need in 2011 from my Reverb10 participation. (Reverb10 really makes you reflect and it was a lot of fun–check it out!)

So let’s start with the negative (so we can end on a high note).  Most of what you’ll see below are symptoms of the hyper-involvement-then-crash cycle that I’ve been in for a long time.

11 Things I Don’t Need in 2011:

  1. Negativity (my own and from others)
  2. Laziness
  3. Endless hours of TV and movies
  4. Bad attitudes/judgement (my own and from others)
  5. Junk food
  6. Endless coffees and happy hour drinks
  7. Lack of focus
  8. Couch Potato (related to #2 and #3)
  9. Cowardice
  10. Unacceptance (of self and others)
  11. A packed calendar

Onto the fun stuff!

11 Things I DO Need in 2011:

  1. Love
  2. Exercise/yoga
  3. Courage
  4. Fruits and veggies
  5. Conscious consuming and eating
  6. Reading and writing
  7. Creative Outlets (off-line)
  8. Positivity/optimism
  9. Challenges (professional and personal)
  10. Travel and adventure (get outdoors!)
  11. Centered Success

My hope was that by getting rid or limiting the first 11 and adding the second 11 I would be healthier, more at peace mentally, pushing myself to new boundaries, and overcoming old obstacles.

What are the 11 things you do and don’t need for this year?

Courage

I keep telling myself that having nothing to say is keeping me from beginning (this blog), but I’ve always been known as the talkative child in my family, so what am I really afraid of? Failure? Or is it just an excuse?

As part of Reverb10 I made a list of 11 things I do and do not need for 2011. Re-reading the “do need” list, one thing that really stood out to me was— Courage. I need the courage to begin truly listening to myself and allowing myself to act. I don’t think I’ve been acting in  a way completely counter to my feelings and desires, but I also wonder how often I act under societal pressures and expectations over my own interests. The need to “go out more” or “join the right club and be active” always run though my head, but is it really me doing the talking? I’ve always felt like I can fool even myself, so I sometimes worry about my  motives in cases like that. But maybe this worrying is just the same as the fear–an excuse; a new way to be neurotic instead of simply accepting myself and following my gut.

If I feel the need to stay in,  go out, work more or less and I’m happy and financially stable, what does it matter? What my peers, family, and society expect of me is not as important as what I genuinely want for my life. Why do something you dislike out of obligation if you don’t have to? You’re not hurting anyone (within reason) by following your gut.

Resolved: Have the courage to act in they way you desire and set yourself free from any other expectations.