Tag Archives: insight

What Type of Task Master are You?

One morning I went to the gym for a swim before starting my work day.  When I got back to the locker room, I realized the clock by the pool was slow.  I didn’t have nearly as much time as I needed to get ready.  Most of my work is done over the phone, so it really doesn’t matter how I look, however, on that day I was going into a company and wanted to look presentable.  I wasn’t sure how that would happen given my limited time.  Out of desperation, I ended up drying my hair while putting on mascara.  Not a pretty picture!  I did get to my meeting on time and in one piece, but with quite a struggle.  I’m lucky I didn’t poke my eye out!

?
?

How often are you multi-tasking instead of mono-tasking, whether by choice or out of habit?  We live in a culture where it’s become the norm to do more than one thing at a time.   We may pride ourselves on our multi-tasking ability, believing that it helps us get more done. When we are honest with ourselves, however, we recognize what studies are beginning to show:  multi-tasking is not productive. It’s really only possible to place your attention on one thing at a time. If you don’t believe this, here’s an experiment: Think about the about the taste of a fresh strawberry (that fresh, luscious, burst of sweetness) at the exact same time as you subtract 37 from 95.  Really concentrate. You can switch back and forth really quickly, but you can’t actually think about both things simultaneously.  When we multi-task, our attention is splintered, flitting back and forth between the multiple things we are attempting to accomplish. If, like me, you attempt to follow Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements, including the agreement to “do your best” we would we well served to minimize multi-tasking. When we have more than one thing we are working on, our efforts will rarely be more than second best.

Mono-tasking, on the other hand, has many benefits.  When we give our full attention to something, we usually do it efficiently and well.  It is a form of mindfulness.  We feel better about ourselves, the process we are engaged in, as well as the end product.  As I typed the first word of this paragraph, I noticed I’d made a Freudian slip typo.  I’d written “Mom-tasking”.  It made me recall all the multi-tasking I’d done as a work-from-home mother.  Many afternoons I would be doing laundry, making dinner, listening to a personal or business development recording, and helping a son with his homework, all at the same time.  When my husband or the other son would come into the room to ask me something or share about his day, I hardly gave my full attention.  When we give our full attention to someone and listen with our whole being, it feels like a gift.  Those are moments to treasure in our relationships.

What do you want to give your full attention to?

How do you feel when you mono/multi-task?

Where could you simplify your life by narrowing your focus?

What Fills Your Rain Barrel?

I’ve never been so happy to have rainy days as I’ve been this week.  We’ve had an unusually long spell of hot and dry weather in our area, creating extreme drought conditions.  Lake Cochichewick, our town’s reservoir is fortunately quite large, however, even with a voluntary water ban for most of the summer, the water level is noticeably lower.  We have relied on our rain barrels to supplement watering pots, gardens, and foundation plantings.  At times, our rain barrels ran dry.

To me, rrain-barrelain barrels seem like a metaphor for our own inner resources.  At times during this busy summer, I felt as if my rain barrel was empty.  Even though this season was full of so many blessings—visits with friends and family, a coaching Summit, a retreat, travel, work, gardening, camping, and swimming,—there were times when all of that activity and doing became overwhelming.  As I returned to the meditation cushion after a few very hectic days when I let my practice lapse, I could sense that my rain barrel was beginning to fill again.  I made a mental note of this and for the rest of the summer I did my best to find ways to incorporate some moments of stillness or sky-gazing into every day.

To navigate this transition period between summer and fall with more balance and joy, consider:

What fills your rain barrel?

What depletes it?

What commitment(s) do you want to make to yourself to insure that it doesn’t run dry?

What’s Your Body’s Message?

anatomy-254120_960_720I’m still reeling from a week earlier this month in which a fellow swimmer died, a neighbor had open heart surgery, and my husband suffered from lower back pain and spasms.

My swimming buddy (we shared a lane during an adult swim class) had taken about a month’s break from exercise in between sessions.  I swam with him twice before the next round of classes was to begin.  He said he was having a hard time getting his breathing back.  He was using a heart rate monitor and I recall him taking long rests whenever his heart rate got too high. I may have been one of the last people to see him before he died suddenly of a heart attack, leaving a wife and three children.

My neighbor was fortunate to also be wearing a heartrate monitor when he began having some cardiac symptoms. An ambulance took him right to the hospital for tests which identified the problem. He was lucky to have a successful bypass surgery in time. They were told that with the type of blockage he had, people often just drop dead of a heart attack. Looking back, he and his wife have been able to identify earlier signals, such as pallor, chest pain, and shortness of breath when exercising (which doctors thought was exercise induced asthma.)

My husband, Bill, went into back spasms the day after celebrating his 60th birthday with a party with his mountain biking friends. He’s always been very active and enjoys challenging himself. For example, he recently did a “tri-peak” event where they rode up and down three mountains in one day.  His back pain may have been from his mountain biking or lifting a heavy rock while trail building. He’s never been one to stretch much or do yoga, but he’s becoming more open to it now. He has already benefited from a “yoga for back pain relief” practice that a yoga teacher friend of mine shared with me.

Our bodies are constantly giving us messages.  Sometimes we fail to notice them.  Other times we choose to ignore them.  What I’ve witnessed over and over again is that if we don’t pay attention to the whispers or subtle signs, our bodies will keep turning up the volume until we finally hear the messages.  For instance, I ignored headaches and resisted admitting that alcohol, (even just one drink or glass of wine) is like poison to my body.  It took routine blood work revealing elevated liver enzymes and a thermogram (which I do instead of mammograms) showing a lot of congestion to finally make me serious about healing my liver.

What’s your body’s message?  I invite you to take a few moments to tune into your body:

Close your eyes and slowly begin to scan your body from head to toe.

As you bring your awareness to your body, listen.  Where are the whispers or shouts?

Focus on one area at a time, beginning with the one that’s clamoring for the most attention. What sensations are you feeling in this part of your body?

What emotions might that be expressing?

If this area was trying to tell you something, what might be the message(s)?

What does your body want you to do?

Repeat the process for any other areas of your body that want to be heard.

I highly encourage you to then heed your body’s wisdom!