Tuesday, 30 December 2014

It's that time of year again - NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS

Well it started with a list of 10 things, then I narrowed it down to 5 sets of things and now I've come up with 4 things that I want to accomplish in 2015! But I have a history of going too big, too fast, too hard and I'm probably not alone in that. 

When it comes to new years resolutions, I would say there are three camps of people. Those who think it's a stupid tradition, not worth their time, or that give it some lip service, but who secretly hope this will be the year they lose 10 lbs or finally get back to the gym. The second camp, who sets a goal, with kind of a plan, and works diligently until about March, April, or May, at which time they are too exhausted or too discouraged to continue. And then there are those who somehow bring about or maintain a serious change in their life for a whole year, and maybe even beyond. 

Each year, I've fallen into one of these camps. But most often the second. I start off strong, and then after months of hard work I collapse back into my previous way of being. I have lost weight in the past, and even ran a full marathon one year. But rarely have I accomplished the feat of some, who manage to make it January to January pursuing a goal. 

These days there are tones of apps, articles and resources to help us set better goals. Like this mash up of the best apps, or this Harvard Business Review article (and yes I found these with a 2 second google search on goal setting). Thank goodness the internet is always willing to help us be our best self. But some how that just isn't enough. 

Part of my problem is that I don't set goals that are flexible enough to be part of my real life. And/or I get stuck in the details of it and can't get moving forward. Oh, classic symptoms of my perfectionism! But over the last month or so, I've been thinking about my resolutions. MY LIST OF RESOLUTIONS. And have been battling the beast that is my brain about what makes sense and what's really obtainable. And in the end, I've come up with these four things:

1.   Completing what I've started or committed too - NO NEW PROJECTS
This one might seem counterintuitive, since part of this blog is showing you projects, but trust me, I've started or committed to enough projects that I'll have lots to share this year. This obviously doesn't apply to my job job, but it does apply to all that is in my life beyond work. Which includes three ongoing project lists; our house, the clinton house (which you are yet to see) and the congregation (First Unitarian of Toronto). And truth be told, I don't even have a serious, actually written down, list for each. I just keep all that crap in my brain (no wonder I feel exhausted). And as my husband has said, get it all down because on January 1st, those lists are sealed and NO NEW PROJECTS! 

2.    Learn to manage my energy, rather than my time. 
I've done the pomodoro method, set different alarms, used a diversity of apps and made a bazillion lists. But truth be told, one of my biggest issues with time management is that I often have time, I just don't have enough energy. Each night I get home, and probably have 3-4 hours of time I could be using productively, but I just don't have the gumption to get anything done because I'm exhausted. Yet I do find the energy to shame myself over my lack of productivity. So I've decided that it isn't about having enough time, it's about having enough energy. Plus, I'm not the first person to think of this, there are some great articles on it. And I plan to figure out how to make this part of my life (can you feel another blog coming!). For 2015, I want to stop worrying about not having enough time or doing enough with my time, and instead learn to manage how I spend my energy.

3.    Take better care of myself - SERIOUSLY
This last year has been filled with some serious ups and downs. And I stopped taking care of myself and started living on autopilot. But it's time to come to grips with the fact that this is the only body and brain I have, and it needs more care than I've given it. I want to find a fun way to exercise and I want to take enough time to fuel my body in a way that helps it, not hurts it. I want to have a meditative practice, find more pleasure and stretch my body out. I want to give to myself with the same passion and energy that I give to others. This isn't about losing 10lbs or running another marathon, this is about caring for the only vessel I have (Rev. Shawn preached a good sermon on this and starts really about page 6, here's the link)

4.    Tending the sacred bonds
Over the last couple of years, my family and friends have carried me through some of the most joyous and heart wrentching experiences. They have loved on me endlessly. And this year I really want to pour back into all those who have poured into me. This means more cards, calls, skype dates, dinner dates, ladies nights, etc. 

And that's it. That's what I want to work on in 2015. Sure I want to use less paper cups, and compost more. Sure I want to buy more local stuff and find social justice projects that I love. You know, all the things that make you a good unitarian. But really what I need in 2015 is less chaos, more perspective, and more time spent loving. 

Here's wishing you the 2015 that you need and want.   

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Scope Creep + Perfectionism = Projects Not Started. So Just Start!

Has this ever happened to you, you think about a small project you'd like to do, (i.e. hang a piece of art in the hallway), and the task seems really simple. For me, all I need to do is pick a spot to hang it, add a nail, and volia, hung art! 

But instead my brain goes to other things, like the fact that the wall probably needs a refresh of paint, and if I do the wall, I should do all the trim in the hallway, which then means needing to remove the carpet runner, and if I pull that up, I should probably wash the floor underneath it, and maybe vacuum the underside of the runner. 

But to get started I need paint, and I think I left all my painting supplies at the congregation, so I need to pick them up while I'm out getting paint. But then I wonder if I should repaint it the same colour or a different colour or if maybe it would be cool to do some sort of really neat geometric design on the wall. So then that means researching some pattern options, pick a design, or get my fan deck out and finding the perfect colour to highlight the art. But because I love this piece of art, I need anything I do behind it to be just perfect, which means I need to do some tests of whatever I decide, which means getting some paint testers or doing a couple of pattern swatches. But that also means that I need to hang the piece to see what will work best. 

And there it is "I need to hang the piece...". So after all those mind bending options and processes, I'm ultimately  back to just freaking hanging the art! That's really all I need to do right now. 

So I did. 

And it's perfect!

Just having it up, is really what matters. The piece was painted by my dear friend, Bruce Schwartzentruber.

A man who deeply tethered Kieran and I to our spiritual home for well over a year before we planted our roots. A man who's smile and kind eye were enough to light up your day. And a man who always wanted to know how you were doing. And he didn't just ask because he should, he asked because he cared and he listened soo deeply. Always remembering details of your life and following up with you later about them. He was such a huge light in our world. And then just over a month ago, he dropped dead of a massive heart attack. Leaving this massive hole in my life, and in the life of our congregation. 

And so I did what I do best, I did stuff to deal with the pain. I created all the flowers for his memorial. 

And with my friends, I pulled together the Annual Time + Talent Fundraising Auction. 

And while hosting our annual auction, I out bid everyone who tried to purchase this painting (you could say being the auctioneer gave me unfair advantage).

  Because I wanted to be reminded daily of who he was and of the powerful work he did. 

Now, every morning, I get to pass part of him as I begin my day. And I'm reminded how important it is to maintain perspective. Because he never would have cared about the wall not being perfect. Or there not being an accent colour. All he would have cared about was being present. His work reminds me that being present in the moment for myself and others is what matters. All the other details are just noise.  Bruce cared about the big picture and having big impacts on people. So let go of the details that are holding you back, just start!

Friday, 12 December 2014

It's been a year...

...since I stood in front of a panel of architects, with my labour of love standing behind me, while they pick apart many months of thought and sleepless nights. It's been a year since I had my final architectural critique. 

And it's been a year filled with emotional ups and downs. and definitely a large collection of doubt.
After that final critique, an architecture friend asked me how it felt to officially be done, and I remember saying something about how I may have just realized that the last 3.5 years had been a total waste of my time. And that feeling of regret didn't go away right away. It lingered, all through Christmas, and sometimes I just laid in bed and cried (for realz).

And then I started to come out of it. I pulled together an RFP (request for proposal, the way that architects sometimes apply for work) with some friends, for a non-profit group that I adore the work of, and by some miracle my team won it. And shortly after the work started by some crazy insanity and legal means, I left the project team. And the feeling of regret returned.

And my friends rallied around me. And my husband held me. And my connections in the architecture community dug deeper for the belief in my work. And then this strange situation happened, that I found myself in a job so perfect, I never imagined that it could exist. And that's because it didn't, (and in some ways, still doesn't because I'm not permanent yet). But a hospital took a risk on me, and decided to hire me to help them get some of their stalled projects moving again. To not only use my architectural knowledge but to bring my clinical skills of group facilitation together into the amazingness that is my job.

And every day, even on the stressful ones, I can't believe that I get to do what I do. I can't believe that I'm living a life bigger than I ever imagined. And that the risk I took almost 5 years ago, to leave my life as an addiction and mental health counselor to pursue my passion for creating spaces that help people heal, was totally worth it. All those sleeplessness. Those endless hours in front of a computer. the absorbing of the abusive words and behaviour from the faculty and it's profs. All of the shit show that is architecture school was completely worth it.

It's been one of the most interesting years of my life.