Friday, May 28, 2010

Beyond the Mountains

As my wonderful yoga teacher Ellie (check out is fond of quoting:

“Beyond the mountains, there are mountains.”

Although I'm pretty sure the great yoga sages weren't referring to a desk top disaster with this quote, I still think it's pretty applicable.

If I'm bogged down by clutter, in my mind or in my physical space, I'm less likely to get to the things that really matter to me.

Some people (amazingly) are automatically organized. I'm not.

One of the best strategies I've learned to use is to combine the concepts of the 4 Day Win and Turtle Steps.

Here's an example.

In the winter time I 'nest' at a desk in my living room that has close proximity to our heat source, my beloved wood stove.

During the rest of the year I make my office in an adjoining room with bookshelves and huge windows, looking over my front porch. My desk is a big old hand made pine table I found at a consignment shop.

While I'm 'wintering' in the front room, the 'summer-office' becomes the receptacle for everything about which I've procrastinated on making a decision, mostly paper stuff.
It is spring time, and although I've had a couple delicious mid-April fires on some chilly mornings, it is time to make the move.

And I am overwhelmed. Beyond my mountains there are mountains.

Here are a few things that have accumulated on the desk in the last several months:

Cute note from daughter that I don't want to pitch, a few quotes I've calligraphied, a baggie with a lone earring, whose partner may even show up when I get through this task, bank statements, a Time magazine with an article someone specifically saved for me that I haven't made time to read (Dec 7 2009), sketches of my garden plot, several hanging folders, a gift certificate for a pedicure, various pens, markers, wires that go to God knows what, 1/8th role of toilet get the idea. It's been worse, but it's pretty stacked up.

The idea behind the 4 Day Win is to choose a behavior that you want to change, and-using Turtle Steps-break it into the tiniest increments possible so success will be assured. There's a little magic in choosing 4 day chunks: change happens. You must reward yourself at the end of the 4 days. Tweak the turtle step as needed or choose the next 5 minute commitment and repeat for 4 more days.

Thus, I am committing to a mere 5 minutes a day to transition from my winter office. It's amazing what I can get done in that amount of time, and there is no resistance from my mind when I know this is such a bite-sized task. The way I time myself? Either an old-fashioned egg timer, or playing a song that's approximately 5 minutes long.

If the spirit moves you and you want to do more, feel free; just don't do less.

And don't forget the reward. There's a book I've been wanting, and a used copy is available on Amazon. That's what I'll be ordering on Thursday. Dishtowels at Target, an hour in Byrd Park with cell phone off and a juicy book, cashing in on that gift certificate mentioned earlier, carving out a couple hours to calligraphy, blocking out a ½ hour for a phone visit with a dear friend across the country...these are all examples of ways to reward myself.

OK, gotta go. The Mountains are calling and Gillian Welch just started singing Miss Ohio!


Joan Shepherd - FNP

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